Investment in technology innovation initiative under Christchurch Call
This initiative will support the creation of new technology to understand the impacts of algorithms on people’s online experiences.
- New Zealand
Today New Zealand, the USA, Twitter, and Microsoft, announced investment in a technology innovation initiative under the banner of the Christchurch Call. This initiative will support the creation of new technology to understand the impacts of algorithms on people’s online experiences.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms play a growing role in our everyday lives, including in how we organise information, and experience the internet. A majority of the content we encounter and view online is curated by algorithms in some form.
Through the Christchurch Call to Action, we have committed to work together to better understand the impacts that algorithms and other processes may have on terrorist and violent extremist content. Leaders and the Call Community regard this algorithmic work as a top priority.
In order to study those impacts, we have to overcome challenges around: how to protect user privacy and proprietary information; how to investigate impacts holistically across society; and how to achieve reproducibility, affordability, and scale for independent researchers. Working with an open-source non-profit organisation called OpenMined, the Algorithms Initiative will develop and test ground-breaking privacy-enhancing software infrastructure to address those challenges and help us move forward work under the Call.
While this initiative won’t tell us all we need to know about the outcomes algorithms are driving online, it will help us better access data so researchers can answer these very questions.
The Christchurch Call Initiative on Algorithms is committed to supporting this work so that we can empower independent researchers to help us build safer platforms and more effective interventions to protect people both online and offline.
If successful, these technologies will be made available to the whole Christchurch Call community and beyond it. The technology, once tested and proven in the Call context, could open up a new field of algorithmic research with a much wider application.
Our community wants to understand the role of online activity as a factor in radicalisation, how terrorist and violent extremist content spreads across platforms. The privacy protective technology being developed through our initiative is one of the most promising ways to open those questions to independent research at a suitable scale. It could also help people working in a number of other fields.
We hope that this work will ultimately help the Christchurch Call Community to understand what online service providers, community organisations, and governments can do to make the online environment safer and more user-friendly.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We simply won’t make the progress we need on these important issues, without better understanding how they are operating in the real world in the first place. Companies, governments, civil society, we will all benefit from this initiative. It will help us create the free, open and secure internet we are all driving for.”
Brad Smith, of Microsoft, said: “The Christchurch Call is about bringing governments, tech companies, and civil society together to make meaningful progress to stop the spread and amplification of violent extremist content online. The responsible use of AI, including explaining how algorithms recommend content to people on social media platforms, is an important challenge we must address.”
Vijaya Gadde, of Twitter, said: “Our work with the New Zealand Government and Microsoft to support the development of innovative technology by OpenMined is a key building block to significantly expand the ability of researchers to understand the role of algorithms in content discovery and amplification while protecting the privacy of people’s data. There is significant potential to provide a far more robust evidence base for a policy debate of critical importance to the future of online services.”
Andrew Trask, of OpenMined, said “Few in civil society have been able to study how major algorithms impact society, owing to privacy, security, and logistical challenges. We think that privacy enhancing technologies can remedy these challenges, and we're optimistic that this project will set the precedent that they can.”
(With Inputs from New Zealand Government Press Release)