Have you ever seen the Black Mirror episode called "Arkangel"? It tells the story of an overly apprehensive mother who implants a chip in her daughter's brain to follow her every move.
But it also updates it with a couple of features, like the ability to see everything your daughter sees and to force her to have automatic visual censorship. Basically, he blocks pictures of anything that might be considered "shocking" to his daughter. Her daughter simply cannot see what her mother is censuring. It goes without saying that this episode of Black Mirror is not going to look good. It is a prerogative of the English dystopian series, on the other hand.
A technology is being developed today that could actually be used to automatically censor images in real time.
In this clip by TEDx Talks, computer interface scientist Lonni Besançon presents technology that could do just that.
The automatic visual censorship system works a little differently from the version seen in Black Mirror, with the aim of preserving additional information of the image being obscured.
Instead of just pixelating “offensive” images, the processing technology would apply filters to make the image less shocking. The use case explained here is where a surgical image could be made less repulsive, while retaining enough detail to understand what was going on.
The core of this particular technology is more about reducing the shocking nature of specific images or footage, rather than making decisions about what is considered offensive or shocking.
That said, the Besançon team built a prototype of a Chrome extension that can automatically identify violence, nudity or medical images and apply visual filters.
Automatic visual censorship: when it's right and when not.
There may certainly be legitimate uses for this AI-based censorship. Protection for teens, social media moderators or police detectives from having to view disturbing images.
Certainly, however, it could also be used to impose unwanted censorship if used improperly or forced on the masses.