In a recent interview with researcher and CTO Avi Ben Ezra, he helped to shed light and answer some of the most important questions around chatbots and child protection.
How can chatbots help to keep our children safe?
We all know that children are the future. To ensure that they will be able to contribute to their potential in a positive way and help achieve a better planet, it is necessary to protect them from harmful influences. The online safety of our children is a very real concern and is shared by Ben Ezra, the CTO of SnatchBot who says: “We can simply never do too much to ensure the safety of our children”. Ezra estimates that there are thousands of different applications available to date that can accomplish just about any level of security imaginable. Likewise, there are AI chatbots which are used in the most amazing roles. They are creatively deployed to do whatever they are called upon with a high level of efficiency.
“It will be interesting to look back in 20 year’s time to see all of the things we have accomplished with the help of chatbots. There is still a lot of research to be done before an accurate picture will begin to emerge about what exactly is possible with chatbots implementation. For now, the best we can do is to experiment and discover”.
One project that is attracting a lot of interest is Oyoty. It is essentially a friendly looking chatbot who have an important objective which is to keep children safe when they are interacting on social networks. This particular chatbot has been designed specifically for use by children 12 years and younger who owns a Smartphone or tablet used to access social media.
How effective will these measures be?
As far as Oyoty is concerned it is a chatbot presented in the form of an application and it is available for use on Android and iOS. This application is downloaded onto a Smartphone or tablet. After completion of the download, the application is linked with the child’s social media accounts. Several social media platforms are supported such as Twitter, Instagram, and Face book. Oyoty is a bit like having a responsible person with that child when they are online. Instead of having a parent playing policeman all the time, you now have a delegate who is trusted to continually scan exactly what the child is uploading for 24 hours a day. The application is able to intervene by flagging problem posts to the children involved in an attempt to help them understand why certain uploads is not a good idea and also why personal information should not be shared. One of the most important elements in the life of any young child is education. Helping children to understand the reason why something is dangerous will help them to avoid a similar situation. This is why this one of this application’s important objectives includes educating children. Hopefully, this will make them more aware of what they are doing online and what things are better to avoid. Interestingly, Ben Ezra says to help breed familiarity and increase user-friendliness, the chatbots interventions are presented in the form of a conversation where the child is allowed to participate. In this way, the child becomes an important part of the decision-making process and over time learns to make better decisions in the future. The designers of the app have been working closely with a child psychologist who has provided important insights which were then used in the content used during chatbot conversations.
What are some of the most pressing problems faced by humanitarian organizations?
As an influential researcher, Ben Ezra says he finds that the populations of the world are going through a crisis after crisis motion. There are frequent natural and man-made disasters. There are also many other emergencies that had a major impact on the global population over the last couple of centuries. Although there are many global relief organizations that are doing everything in their ability to assist people involved in those tragedies of which many are children, it seems they are always playing catch-up. The best we seem to be able to do is to react to emergencies. Ezra’s research team now believes that sophisticated technologies and especially artificial intelligence can be integrated with cloud technology. This can substantially change the situation as far as helping people is concerned. It could make it possible to save more lives, to restore human dignity and to alleviate suffering. This can be done by completely changing the way in which global relief organizations anticipate upcoming emergencies. This can allow them to respond more effectively to any crisis and therefore reduce the trauma experienced by young children.
What are done today to address these issues?
There is a new initiative which is known as AI for humanitarian action which is a $40 million initiative. It is a five-year Microsoft program which will use the powers of artificial intelligence to look at global emergency problems. This program will help to address the needs of children, it will help disaster areas to recover quickly and it will better protect displaced people and refugees. This program will also promote respect for human rights. The objective is to provide efficient solutions for some of the biggest challenges which are faced by societies today. Ezra is convinced that harnessing the power of artificial intelligence can do a lot to ensure that emergencies are managed more efficiently and is passionate to see this happen.
What about early childhood education?
It is entirely possible to create chatbots by making use of artificial intelligence which will be able to assist parents with the educational needs of their children. Fun and educational activities can be provided even for very young children between the ages of three and six. Ezra says that with the power of artificial intelligence, it is possible to provide unlimited access to a wide variety of excellent childhood education resources and this can be made available to millions of parents all across the planet regardless of location or economic stance. Educators and experts in artificial intelligence such as Ben Ezra and his team have no doubt at all that it is important for all children to be completely prepared for their early childhood development because this will have a critical impact on how they will turn out in adulthood. Research which has been conducted over the last couple of centuries has indicated very clearly how important early education is in order to prepare a young child for school. That early investment often makes the difference between career success and failure. It has been known for many years that the influences experienced by children during the first five years of life will have a very large impact on their future adult development. Neurologists tell us that hundreds of new neural connections are formed every second. These connections will be important for the future behavior; learning and health which the child will need to develop into a productive and successful adult. With groundbreaking research and development, Ben Ezra hopes to be at the forefront of reaching new frontiers in protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
Youtube video – A vision of the future, by SnatchBot: