Connectivity and access to knowledge on the go has been one of the major benefits of digitisation across the globe, but it has also opened doors to fake news, hate speech and abuse targeting women as well as minorities. Social media platforms have been seen struggling to contain the rise in racist rhetoric along with a surge of misinformation in the past few years.
Netizens in countries like the UAE have also faced action over hate speech or online abuse, thanks to strict norms about the issue in the Middle East’s tech oasis, where the offence can also land a person in jail for a year. But now the battle against racist and hateful statements is set to transcend the online space, through the use of a gadget that can raise an alarm whenever it detects offensive language during a conference, debate or conversation, at public events.
Named Themis after the Greek godess of justice and social order, the tiny device is able to identify hateful comments, racist slurs and abusive language, to interrupt the discussion and raise concerns. It does so with the help of sound sensors and speech recognition tech, to identify tasteless humour, before triggering an alarm which goes on for two minutes, so that the speaker desists from using such language.
Once the alert is turned off, people can discuss the terms being flagged by Themis and the reasons for its activation, to think about problematic terms normalised in society. Although it can be used in any setting including including public as well as private events, the device is currently being tested in classrooms and university campuses.
People in the UAE caught a glimpse of the gadget relevant to our times, as the firm unveiled it at Dubai Design Week. The solution can become popular at a time when hateful rhetoric seems to be a real threat across the globe.