GLAAD and Alphabet’s Jigsaw announce collaboration at SXSW to promote LGBTQ-inclusive AI research

March 10, 2018

GLAAD today announced a collaboration with Jigsaw, a unit within Google's parent company Alphabet, to create public data sets and machine learning research resources to help make online conversations more inclusive for the LGBTQ community.

The announcement was made during a GLAAD-sponsored panel at SXSW titled The Digital War Against Bias, which featured Jigsaw product manager Cj Adams, Civil Rights Activist DeRay Mckesson, and was moderated by CNN’s Laurie Segall. The panel discussed how technology provides a lifeline for LGBTQ and other social justice movements and delved into how progressive content is being inadvertently blocked on social platforms, how hate groups are launching new organizing efforts across platforms, and how the rise of machine learning poses new challenges on bias in data.

Two years ago, in an attempt to support platforms hosting more inclusive conversations online, Jigsaw launched Perspective, a tool that uses machine learning to detect patterns in language such as “toxicity,” or the likelihood of a comment to make someone leave a conversation. Jigsaw’s research discovered that identity terms often associated with abusive comments online occasionally triggered erroneously high toxicity scores, as Perspective’s machine learning models were trained on datasets that included hundreds of thousands of real human comments. Jigsaw has been reaching out to communities around the world that deal first-hand with these challenges, including GLAAD, and using those insights to improve its algorithms.

Jigsaw and GLAAD will continue working together to find ways to make online conversations more inclusive, including collaborating to create public resources for research to improve machine learning models.

This initiative is part of GLAAD’s Digital Program, which pairs community expertise with technical expertise to create resources that will benefit marginalized groups online. 

“Our mission is help communities have great conversations at scale. We can't be content to let computers adopt negative biases from the abuse and harassment targeted groups face online. We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with GLAAD and others in creating public research resources which can help improve the models we make and advance the field of bias-mitigation research through an open and collaborative process,” said Cj Adams, Jigsaw Product Manager.

“A.I. has the potential for amazing benefits, but also has the potential to widen social divisions and further harm marginalized communities like LGBTQ people,” said Jim Halloran, Chief Digital Officer at GLAAD. “That is why it is crucial that we are collaborating with important organizations like Google to build inclusive A.I. that accelerates acceptance for all people.”