It’s come to this: Twitter is now employing IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence to help fight the ongoing war against its own users.
The AI famous for winning at Jeopardy and replacing insurance claims agents will take on its greatest challenge yet: Twitter trolls. Watson will use its ability to interpret natural language and analyze images to do something that the estimated 2,300 remaining employees of the social network have repeatedly failed to do.
Once thriving, the embattled social network has been in steady decline for years. In an attempt to strike a balance between the open nature of the platform and preventing online “abuse,” Jack Dorsey and his team have instead careened through a public comedy of errors as people on both sides of the debate have lost patience and moved on from the platform.
Twitter Vice Present of Data Strategy Chris Moody said that they have had “some abuse” on the platform, discussed “very publicly in the past few months.” In announcing the partnership with IBM Watson, he stressed that their first priority is to “stop the abuse.”
“Watson is really good at understanding nuances in language and intention. What we want to do is be able to identify abuse patterns early and stop this behaviour before it starts,” he said.
Watson will help Twitter identify “abusive” accounts. Twitter will then use the information to decide whether to limit a user’s visibility or simply ban them from the service altogether.
Whether or not Watson proves effective at his task, Twitter will face an uphill battle to regain its status and popularity. The company is caught between users who have become discouraged by its toxicity, and others equally dismayed by its tightening of free speech on the social network.
In any case, this is a desperate attempt to reverse the company’s fortunes — but at this point it looks a lot like swapping deck chairs on the Titanic.