by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration is set to dole out more than $550,000 in grants to develop an artificial intelligence model that can automatically detect and suppress microaggressions on social media, government spending records show.
The award, funded through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, was granted to researchers at the University of Washington in March to develop technologies that could be used to protect online users from discriminatory language. The researchers have already received $132,000 and expect total government funding to reach $550,436 over the next five years.
The researchers are developing machine-learning models that can analyze social media posts to detect implicit bias and microaggressions, commonly defined as slights that cause offense to members of marginalized groups. It’s a broad category, but past research conducted by the lead researcher on the University of Washington project suggests something as tame as praising meritocracy could be considered a microaggression.
The Biden administration’s funding of the research comes as the White House faces growing accusations that it seeks to suppress free speech online. Biden last month suggested there should be an investigation into Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter after the billionaire declared the social media app would pursue a “free speech” agenda. Internal Twitter communications Musk released this month also revealed a prolonged relationship between the FBI and Twitter employees, with the agency playing a regular role in the platform’s content moderation.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton likened the Biden administration’s funding of the artificial intelligence research to the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “censor speech unapproved by the state.” For the Biden administration, Fitton said, the research is a “project to make it easier for their leftist allies to censor speech.”