Published: Wed, November 29, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Facebook trains artificial intelligence to spot suicidal signs

Facebook trains artificial intelligence to spot suicidal signs

Furthermore, the tool will apply artificial intelligence to prioritize the reports or users about a potential suicide.

Rosen says that early testing of the system is already promising, with Facebook's proactive detection tools resulting in more than 100 wellness checks - cases where Facebook alerted local first responders - in the last month alone. "With all the fear about how AI may be harmful in the future, it's good to remind ourselves how AI is actually helping save people's lives today", he wrote. Over 44 thousand Americans are said to die by suicide each year, and for each death, there's an average of 25 attempts.

The AI tool is available for nearly all its 2 billion users, except certain users in the United States.

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Through the use of AI, Facebook is looking for patterns that signal a user might be suicidal.

Rosen did not name the countries where Facebook was deploying the software, but he said it would eventually be used worldwide except in the European Union due to sensitivities, which he declined to discuss. More members are also being utilized on Facebook's Community Operations team - the thousands of people around the world who review reports about content on Facebook - to deal with reports of suicide or self harm. Eliminating this step not only means the company can identify cases that may have previously fallen through the cracks, but that they can reach people who need help much faster than before. It will be able to identify different issues beyond suicide, including bullying and hate.

Although preventing suicide is obviously a noble goal, Facebook's project has a few worrying implications.

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Prior to the launch of Facebook's AI initiative, the company allowed concerned users to alert moderators to concerning posts.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, addressed concerns that the AI technology could be applied in other, more alarming ways. "Also, Guy Rosen and team are incredible, great opportunity for ML engs to have impact".

Facebook, to put a stop to the disturbing trend, in March this year announced setting up of an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based suicide-prevention tool in the United States region.

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"The artificial intelligence can help to provide a better approach", he went on in an open letter.

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