New chatbot goes online to fight image-based abuse


Credit: RMIT University

Picture-based abuse—when somebody takes, shares or threatens to share nude, semi-nude or sexual pictures or video with out consent—has grow to be a rising subject, skilled by 1 in 3 Australians surveyed in 2019.

Lead researcher behind the creation of “Umibot,” Professor Nicola Henry from RMIT’s Social and International Research Centre, mentioned “deepfake” content material (pretend movies or pictures generated utilizing AI), incidents the place persons are pressured into creating sexual content and being despatched unsolicited sexual pictures or movies additionally depend as image-based abuse.

“It’s a huge violation of trust that’s designed to shame, punish or humiliate. It’s often a way for perpetrators to exert power and control over others,” mentioned Henry, who’s an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

“A lot of victim-survivors we talked to just want the issue to go away and the content to be taken down or removed but often they don’t know where to go for help.”

That’s what this pilot chatbot is right here to handle.

The concept got here to Henry after conducting interviews with victim-survivors about their experiences of image-based abuse.

Whereas the folks she spoke to had numerous experiences, Henry mentioned they typically didn’t know the place to go for assist and a few didn’t know that what had occurred to them was against the law.

“The victim-survivors we interviewed said they were often blamed by friends, family members and others and made to feel ashamed, which made them even more reluctant to seek help,” Henry mentioned.

Dr. Alice Witt, an RMIT Research Fellow engaged on the mission with Henry, mentioned Umibot will not be a alternative for human assist, however it’s designed to assist folks navigate complicated pathways and supply them with choices for reporting and tips about amassing proof or how you can hold secure on-line.

“It is not just for victim-survivors,” Witt mentioned.

“Umibot is designed to also help bystanders and even perpetrators as a potential tool to prevent this abuse from happening.”

How does Umibot work?

Customers can sort questions for Umibot, or they will choose solutions from a set of choices.

Umibot additionally asks customers to establish whether or not they’re over or underneath 18 and in the event that they need assistance for themselves, assist for another person, or are involved about one thing they’ve carried out. This can inform what kind of assist and data they get to go well with their experiences.

Henry says Umibot is the primary of its type that’s devoted to victim-survivors of image-based abuse.

“There are other chatbots out there that more broadly help people who’ve experienced different online harms, but they are not focused on image-based abuse and they don’t have the same hybrid functionality that allows users to type questions to the chatbot,” Henry mentioned.

A brand new method to chatbot design

Henry and Witt labored with Melbourne-based digital company Tundra to create Umibot utilizing Amazon Lex, a synthetic intelligence service for constructing pure language chatbots.

“We know victim-survivors of image-based abuse face a spectrum of experiences over and above image-based abuse, so we developed Umibot as a fully inclusive and trauma-informed empowerment tool to support people who have diverse experiences and come from different backgrounds,” Henry mentioned.

The workforce additionally labored with a various vary of consultants and did an impartial accessibility audit to verify Umibot was as compliant as doable with world accessibility requirements for folks with disabilities.

“Our main ethical challenge was to make sure Umibot didn’t cause any harm or trauma, or make the user feel burdened,” Witt mentioned.

“A lot of victim-survivors are not ready to talk to a person about their experiences, so teaching Umibot how to be empathetic and helpful is a way for them to seek support without any pressure.”

Subsequent steps for Umibot

With Umibot obtainable to make use of proper now, the researchers are hoping to develop a Umibot Model 2 for victim-survivors, bystanders and perpetrators of image-based abuse within the subsequent few years.

“We hope that Umibot will not only empower victim-survivors to find support, but also help us create ‘best practice’ guidelines for designing, developing and deploying digital tools and interventions for addressing online harms more broadly,” Witt mentioned.

Extra data:
You possibly can access Umibot here.

Supplied by
RMIT University

New chatbot goes on-line to struggle image-based abuse (2022, November 30)
retrieved 30 November 2022

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