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Can Artificial Intelligence Solve Our Problems With Harassment Online?

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Imagine a teenager who’s about to distribute nude photos online, or send a racist or bullying comment about someone at school. Then imagine a guardian angel who could swoop down to block these online missiles before they strike—and then warn the kid about the hazards of sharing things like that.

That guardian angel can be artificial intelligence (AI). As our children’s world becomes alarmingly rife with bullying and other forms of harassment, even the most vigilant parents may not be enough protection from a variety of destructive behaviors and the trauma that can ensue, including suicide.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that an astonishing 59 percent of teenagers in the United States have experienced bullying and harassment online. This includes everything from offensive name-calling and spreading of false rumors to sharing explicit images and making outright physical threats.

At the same time, no other generation has been so strongly concerned about issues like anxiety, depression, and bullying. According to another study published this year by Pew, 70 percent of teens perceive anxiety and depression as the most pressing problem among their peers, followed by bullying (55 percent).

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