Skip to Content

The UK government had its own AI built to block extremist video

February 13, 2018

New software, intended for use by small tech firms, can pick out ISIS propaganda with reasonable accuracy.

The news: Developed by London-based data science firm ASI on behalf of the British government, the $800,000 AI is trained on thousands of hours of video to spot extremist content. It can identify 94 percent of ISIS propaganda with 99.99 percent accuracy, and is designed to be used to block the upload of such material.

Who it's for: It will be offered to small tech firms that can’t afford to develop such systems. The likes of Facebook and YouTube already have similar algorithms, though the British government has been critical of how widely and quickly they have been put to use by tech giants.

AI by law? The UK’s home secretary tells the BBC that use of the new AI could potentially become a legal requirement.

But: Because the AI is trained on historical data, extremists will likely be able to develop new ways to circumvent its watchful eye.

Deep Dive


What happened to the microfinance organization Kiva?

A group of strikers argue that the organization seems more focused on making money than creating change. Are they right?

Cryptography may offer a solution to the massive AI-labeling problem 

An internet protocol called C2PA adds a “nutrition label” to images, video, and audio.

Six ways that AI could change politics

A new era of AI-powered domestic politics may be coming. Watch for these milestones to know when it’s arrived.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.