Quora must join the Consortium, Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society
Today, when social media has opened up a door for Palestinians and their advocates through which to shout out to the world, hordes of crudely muscled Zionist trolls are leaning hard against the door, trying to slam it back shut.
No matter how much money Israel puts into its global influencing campaigns, as Asa Winstanely reports in ‘Inside Israel’s million dollar troll army’ and in How Israeli spies are flooding Facebook and Twitter, the basic tool trolls use remains that of lying.
Prevarication is no more clearly apparent in how trolls function than in Quora, a question/answer social media platform, where “most viewed writers” on Palestine are Zionists, and proud of it, churning out literature falsely portraying Zionism as a form of anti-racist resistance and justice for Jews worldwide and denying Palestinian national identity, and where a concerted campaign of harassment and censorship by Zionists and Israelis has systematically targeted my content there, hundreds of answers to questions about Palestine, now erased from the site. [See
‘Banned from Quora “because they are pro-Palestine”’.]
In the letter my attorney sent Quora challenging the ban and suggesting a settlement in lieu of litigation, she proposed (among other demands):
b) that Quora issue a public statement indicating that her account was banned in error and affirming that opposition to Zionism is not “hate speech”;
c) in order to preempt discriminatory harassment of Quora users because of their national origin or advocacy on behalf of particular marginalized groups, an activity which has become widespread and seriously undermines Quora’s credibility as a platform for education, that Quora adjust its moderation policies so that answers are not collapsed simply because of repeated reports, but rather are collapsed only if Quora finds the answer to be in violation of its policy. Dr. Najjar suggests ways in which Quora can do this in the following post under the heading “What can Quora Management do to end malicious reporting that censors speech on Palestine/Israel?”
Quora User Operations responded by addressing only c) above and nothing else in the letter, which extensively demonstrates discrimination (you can read it here), noting that bans such as mine “are the result of an algorithm based on multiple determinations that an author violated policy, each of which is made without any knowledge of any prior history of policy violations.”
In addition to ignoring the discrimination by human moderators as documented in the letter, Quora User Operations is implying above that the artificial intelligence on which the platform partially relies for managing the site cannot possibly be discriminatory.
But people are beginning to realize today that artificial intelligence, even if it is meant to be completely unbiased and objective in its decision making, does, in fact, hold the same prejudices as human beings do. What’s more, something can be done about it, as Chris Wiltz writes in ‘Bias In, Bias Out: How AI Can Become Racist’:
A group of researchers from the University of Bath in the UK set out to determine just how biased an algorithm can be. The results of their study, published in April of this year in the journal Science, showed that machines can very easily acquire both the same conscious and unconscious biases held by humans. All it takes is some biased data.
… About a year ago a consortium, the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, was formed to tackle issues around best practices for creating AI in a way that contributes to the greater good. Among its goals the Partnership lists, “Address such areas as fairness and inclusivity, explanation and transparency, security and privacy, values and ethics, collaboration between people and AI systems, interoperability of systems, and of the trustworthiness, reliability, containment, safety, and robustness of the technology.” Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple all count themselves among the founding members of the consortium.
…If we don’t know how those decisions are made there’s no way we can intervene. Then the computers really will take control of our lives.
Finding “acceptable” language to address the world about the tragedy of Palestine, about what has been inflicted on my grandfather, my father, on me and on the dispossession being inflicted now on my grandchildren [See: ‘Palestine is now the birthright of Trump’s grandchildren rather than mine’], has always been a challenge.
Today, seventy-one years after the Nakba of 1948 when Israel was forcibly established on 78% of Palestine and thousands of Palestinian men, women and children were “transferred” to make way for Jewish immigrants claiming Palestine as their exclusive heritage, the gag order out there in the world against our pointing the finger at the root cause of the Palestinian tragedy — at Jewish Nationalism — has become blatant, with Zionist lawfare and media influencing campaigns. Palestine Legal, whose mission is to bolster the Palestine solidarity movement by challenging efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction, has its hands full.
The most insidious feature of Jewish Nationalism (Zionism) is its denial of the existence of the Palestinian people, both literally (as in the Zionist myth of an ‘empty land’) and conceptually, as in the denial of the existence of a Palestinian nationality.
Jewish Nationalism (launched in Europe as a movement by a Hungarian Jew in 1896) is today adopted by many Jews as an expression of their identity. It is an ideologically exclusionary social and political policy toward non-Jews based on an ancient tribal identity. From the moment politically motivated Jews began to arrive in Palestine as early as 1882, Palestinian Arabs began to view immigrant Jews with fear. Palestinian-Arab fear intensified with the second influx of Jews in 1903 and with succeeding waves of Jewish immigration, which tripled the Jewish population in Palestine by 1914.
These Jews were insensitive to Arab ways and local customs in Palestine. For example, they blocked the customary pasture rights to adjacent Palestinian villages to where they established their colonies and disregarded Ottoman civil laws and courts pretty much in the same manner we witness Jewish colonizers in the West Bank doing today.
But Palestinian Arab opposition to the manifestation of Jewish Nationalism in Palestine became apparent only after what is called the ‘Young Turk revolution’ (a group demanding the restoration of the constitution and parliament in Istanbul,1908 -1914), because only after that was press censorship lifted and political party activities became possible.
Today, with the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ the Trump administration is implementing in order to liquidate Palestinian national claims, it is more important than ever to free Palestine speech in order to free Palestine.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank. She contributes stories/opinion to PalestineChronicle.com and other publications.