In 2017, a Palestinian construction worker in the West Bank settlement of Beiter Illit, Jerusalem, posted a picture of himself on Facebook in which he was leaning against a bulldozer. Shortly after, Israeli police arrested him on suspicions that he was planning an attack, because the caption of his post read “attack them.”

Except that it didn’t. The real caption of the post was “good morning” in Arabic. But for some unknown reason, Facebook’s artificial intelligence-powered translation service translated the text to “hurt them” in English or “attack them” in Hebrew. The Israeli Defense Force uses Facebook’s automated translation to monitor the accounts of Palestinian users for possible threats. In this case, they trusted Facebook’s AI enough not to have the post checked by an Arabic-speaking officer before making the arrest. Read more…

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