Tech Against Terrorism and Microsoft are partnering on the development of an AI-powered tool for detecting terrorist or violent extremist content (TVEC) online. If successful, the tool will help demonstrate the potential of AI technologies in service of online safety.
Microsoft and Tech Against Terrorism today announce a new partnership to pilot the use of the latest AI technologies to better detect and disrupt terrorist and violent extremist content.
The two organisations will collaborate on an AI-powered tool that will harness the AI to detect potentially harmful content for subsequent human review. The tool will be first deployed to strengthen Tech Against Terrorism’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP): a unique repository of verified and classifiable terrorist content from designated terrorist and violent extremist organisations.
In this joint development, Tech Against Terrorism will grant Microsoft access to the TCAP. Launched with the funding and support of the Canadian government, the TCAP is maintained by Tech Against Terrorism’s in-house data science, engineering and Open-Source Intelligence teams.
Both parties will use the TCAP to enhance the capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure AI Content Safety service in flagging potential TVEC for further review. If successful, the initiative could enable Microsoft and Tech Against Terrorism to make the tool available through TCAP to smaller platforms and non-profits, providing next-generation content detection services and supporting the development of a safer online ecosystem.
During the pilot project, Tech Against Terrorism and Microsoft will prioritise AI safety and work to establish a framework to assess the accuracy of terrorist content detection. That assessment will include determining whether content is correctly flagged without perpetuating bias and whether the tool is under-detecting content or flagging false positives.
Adam Hadley, Executive Director of Tech Against Terrorism and CEO of QuantSpark, said: “This joint project aims to understand and demonstrate the potential for AI technologies to transform the way we challenge complex digital safety risks while upholding human rights. AI systems, designed and deployed with rigorous safeguards for reliability and trustworthiness, could power a leap forward in detecting harmful content – including terrorist content created by Generative AI – in a nuanced, globally scalable way, enabling more effective human review of such content.”
The announcement comes on the eve of the Christchurch Call Leaders’ Summit in Paris on 10 November 2023. The partnership reflects Tech Against Terrorism’s and Microsoft’s ongoing support to the multistakeholder Christchurch Call to Action and commitment to supporting whole-of-society efforts to address terrorist and violent extremist content online.
“The use of digital platforms to spread violent extremist content is an urgent issue with real-world consequences,” said Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President at Microsoft. “By combining Tech Against Terrorism’s capabilities with AI, we hope to help create a safer world both online and off.”
What have Microsoft and Tech Against Terrorism (TAT) agreed to partner on?
Microsoft and Tech Against Terrorism are partnering on a collaborative effort to enable AI-powered identification and classification of terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC). The goal of the collaboration is to leverage TAT’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform, a repository of verified and classifiable terrorist content. The platform will enhance the capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure AI Content Safety (ACS) system, which utilizes next-generation multimodal models to track TVEC across various content types, including text, images, and video. Enhanced detection capabilities will ultimately enable more accurate, efficient, and scalable efforts to mitigate the risks associated with TVEC in the online environment.
What is each partner contributing?
Tech Against Terrorism is providing secure access to the TCAP, a unique repository of terrorist content with a dataset drawn from diverse sources worldwide and reviewed and verified by Tech Against Terrorism’s subject-matter experts.Microsoft and Tech Against Terrorism will use the dataset and the latest generative AI models to assess and enhance Microsoft’s Azure AI Content Safety system. If the tool proves effective at detecting TVEC across multiple content types, Microsoft will enable Tech Against Terrorism to provide its network of smaller platforms access to this capability for use in identifying and addressing TVEC.
How will the partnership support and protect fundamental rights?
While AI-based content detection systems are early in their development, they hold great promise for mitigating risks at scale, in a nuanced and global way, and in support of a risk-proportional approach to safety across diverse products and services. Where appropriately deployed, AI-driven safety technologies may excel in key areas where current rules-based systems struggle, such as in differentiating between content promoting violent extremism and content opposing it.
What’s the timeline for the project?
We aim to report back on our progress in six months with a briefing of our initial findings.
Notes to Editors
1. How the partnership works: Tech Against Terrorism will provide Microsoft with access to the Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP), a unique repository of verified and classified terrorist content built and maintained by its in-house data science, engineering, and Open-Source Intelligence teams. In this joint development project, both parties will use the TCAP to enhance the capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure AI Content Safety service in flagging potential terrorist and violent extremist content for further review.
2. Tech Against Terrorism is an independent non-profit organisation launched by the United Nations in 2016. Based in the UK, Tech Against Terrorism develops the technologies and policies needed to disrupt terrorist content online. It encourages, equips and works with technology companies to track terrorist trends, share knowledge across the industry, and develop technical tools to disrupt terrorist content.
3. The TCAP is becoming the world’s largest alert system for verified terrorist content. Launched and supported with funding from the Government of Canada (through Public Safety’s Community Resilience Fund), the TCAP enables platforms to take down content verified as terrorist or violent extremist.
4. Microsoft is a founding member of The Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online and a founding funder of Tech Against Terrorism. Its commitments via these organisations include enabling smaller platforms to better address TVEC on their services.
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