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Expert’s Corner with Checkstep CEO Guillaume Bouchard

This month’s expert is Checkstep’s CEO and Co-Founder Guillaume Bouchard. After exiting his previous company, Bloomsbury AI to Facebook, he’s on a mission to better prepare online platforms against all types of online harm. He has a PhD in applied mathematics and machine learning from INRIA, France. 12 years of scientific research experience at Xerox Research and UCL, focusing on large-scale predictive models, text understanding and distributed AI techniques. And has authored more than 60 international publications and holds more than 50 U.S. patents. In addition to being CEO and Co-Founder of Checkstep, he’s also a serial entrepreneur and angel investor.

1. What got you into the safety tech industry? What is your motivation behind creating Checkstep?

Pushing the boundaries of AI has been a life-long objective, but in the last few years, I realised the incredible impact it can have on society, and I decided to take the side of what I perceive as good for the world. Detecting online misinformation at Facebook was a great start, but maybe not in the right company. With the rise of Covid and its associated misinformation, I thought it was the right time to apply my skills, helping the full spectrum of online platforms that will build a brighter future for the Internet.

2. What are the key economic implications of the current rise of SafetyTech solutions?

Today, these technologies are expensive and a luxury that only the BigTech can afford, and even when they can afford it, their integrity is questionable. I think the key economic implication is the increased diversity of online platforms, because it reduces the barrier to entry for new social networks, dating apps, marketplaces or other online communities.

3. What industries, sectors or organisations do you think should feel most concerned?

I think that live streaming will benefit a lot from the recent advances in the SafetyTech industry because for them, online harms can be life threatening and nearly impossible to mitigate without the help of partially automated solutions.

4. AI vs Humans. Do you think there is competition between them?

This is a very important question to me. It is clear that AI will make many human jobs redundant. This change will be hard to accommodate, and hard to resist against: If taxi and truck drivers did not exist, what would be the downside of having secure self-driving transportation? I believe we need to be prepared to work significantly less, and more importantly to reinvent the notion of work, which ultimately will become closer to what we call a hobby: a recurrent activity that defines you, and that you would do even if you were not paid for it.

5. If not for the pandemic, do you think online harms would be as highlighted?

Given the spread and impact of covid-related health misinformation, which led to people dying, it is clear to me that the pandemic acted as a catalyst for acting earlier and faster against online harms. However, it is fair to say that the upcoming regulatory changes were in the works long before. Also, the George Floyd murder, the capitol event, and the recent post-Euro cup racist attacks were not directly linked to the pandemic.

This article originally appeared in The Checkstep Round-up newsletter https://checkstep.substack.com/p/anti-abuse-actions-social-media-blackouts.

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