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YouTube algorithm accidentally blocks ‘black and white’ chess strategy



YouTube’s overzealous AI may have misinterpreted a conversation about chess as racist language.

Last summer, a YouTuber who produces popular chess videos saw that his channel was blocked to include what the site called harmful and dangerous content.

YouTube did not explain why it had blocked Croatian chess player Antonio Radic, also known as ‘Agadmator’, but the service was restored 24 hours later.

Carnegie Mellon’s computer scientists suspect Radic’s discussion of ‘black on white’ with a grandmaster inadvertently triggered YouTube’s AI filters.

By running simulations with software trained to detect hate speech, they found that more than 80 percent of the chess videos flagged for hate speech were missing something ̵

1; but included terms such as’ black ‘,’ white ‘,’ attack ‘and’ threat’.

The researchers suggest that social media platforms incorporate chess language into the algorithms to prevent further confusion.

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Popular chess YouTuber Antonio Radic had his channel blocked last summer

Popular chess YouTuber Antonio Radic had his channel blocked last summer for “harmful and dangerous” content. He believes that the platform’s AI incorrectly marked him for discussing ‘black versus white’ in a chess conversation

With more than a million subscribers, Agadmator is considered the most popular chess vertical on YouTube.

But on June 28, the Radics’ channel was blocked after he posted a segment with Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, a five-time champion and the youngest American to earn the title of Grandmaster.

YouTube did not give him a reason to block the channel.

In addition to human moderators, YouTube uses AI algorithms to snag banned content – but if they do not get the right examples to provide context, these algorithms can flag benign videos.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon tested two top classifiers, AI software that can be trained to detect hate speech.  More than 80 percent of the comments the programs marked lacked any racist language, but they included chess terms such as 'black', 'white', 'attack' and 'threat'

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon tested two top classifiers, AI software that can be trained to detect hate speech. More than 80 percent of the comments the programs marked lacked any racist language, but they included chess terms such as ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘attack’ and ‘threat’

Radic’s channel was reinstated after 24 hours, leading him to speculate that the use of the term ‘black on white’ in Nakamura was guilty.

At the time, he was talking about the two opposite sides of a chess game.

Ashiqur R. KhudaBukhsh, a computer scientist at Carnegie Melon’s Language Technologies Institute, suspected that Radic was right.

“We do not know what tools YouTube uses, but if they rely on artificial intelligence to detect racist language, this type of accident can happen,” said KhudaBukhsh.

To test his theory, KhudaBukhsh and co-researcher Rupak Sarkar ran tests on two groundbreaking speech classifiers, AI software that can be trained to detect hate speech.

Radic's channel was blocked for 24 hours after he posted this video, with a conversation with Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura

Radic’s channel was blocked for 24 hours after he posted this video, with a conversation with Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura

Using the software on more than 680,000 comments taken from five popular chess channels on YouTube, they found that 82 percent of the comments flagged in a test kit did not contain any overt racist language or hate speech.

Words like ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘attack’ and ‘threat’ seemed to have set the filters, KhudaBukhsh and Sarkar said in a presentation this month at the annual Association for the Advancement of AI conference.

The accuracy of the software depends on the examples given, KhudaBukhsh said, and the training datasets for YouTube’s classifiers probably include few examples of chess, leading to misclassification. ‘

Radić, 33, started his YouTube channel in 2017 and has more than a million subscribers.  His most popular video, a review of a 1962 match, has garnered more than 5.5 million views

Radić, 33, started his YouTube channel in 2017 and has more than a million subscribers. His most popular video, a review of a 1962 match, has garnered more than 5.5 million views

If someone as famous as Radic is blocked incorrectly, he added: ‘It may well happen quietly to many other people who are not so famous.’

YouTube declined to say what caused the Radics video to be flagged, but told Mail Online: ‘When a video is incorrectly removed, we act quickly to recover it.’

‘We also offer uploaders the opportunity to appeal the removal and will review the content again,’ said a representative. Agadmator appealed the removal, and we quickly restored the video.

Radić, 33, started his YouTube channel in 2017, and within a year his income exceeded his daily job as a wedding video.

‘I’ve always loved chess, but I live in a small town, and there were not many people I could talk to [it], he told ESPN last year. ‘So it made sense to start a YouTube channel.’

His most popular video, a review of a 1962 match between Rashid Nezhmetdinov and Oleg Chernikov, has received more than 5.5 million views to date.

COVID barriers have sparked a renewed interest in chess: Since March 2020, the server and social network Chess.com have added approximately 2 million new members a month since the pandemic began, Annenberg Media reported.

The game of kings has also benefited from the popularity of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, a renowned miniseries about a troubled female chess champion who fell on Netflix in October.


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