Call of Duty's New Big Brother: Is ToxMod Listening Too Closely?
Activision is taking a big step with its new tool, ToxMod, that's designed to listen in and catch mean or hateful comments during games. They are teaming up with a company called Modulate to add this AI tool into some of their biggest games, like Modern Warfare 2, Warzone 2, and the soon-to-come Modern Warfare 3. But this has a lot of players wondering: Is this tool going too far and spying on us?
ToxMod is going to start its test phase in North America soon. Its main job is to spot and report bad language or hate speech in the games as they happen. But this raises a big question: are we going to be in a world where every little joke or offhand comment gets watched and analyzed? Even though some other games have been using ToxMod, Call of Duty is a huge name with tons of players, so this feels like a bigger deal.
Activision says the tool will just be reporting, not banning players on its own, and is quoted in PCgamer stating it is to:
"identify in real-time and enforce against toxic speech—including hate speech, discriminatory language, harassment and more."
But this still has people worried. How can a machine tell the difference between a serious insult and friends just joking around? Machines can make mistakes, and there's a fear that players could get flagged for no real reason.
Call of Duty Implementing AI Eavesdropping on Players to Police Hate Speech
Even though the company behind the tool, Modulate, says they've trained it really well, it's hard to predict every situation. Some words might be okay in one context but not in another. Also, there's this new feature where ToxMod can spot talk related to violence or extreme views. This could be great, but it might also mean players feeling like they have to watch every word they say, even if they're just chatting about a random topic.
The big worry here is that games might become places where everyone's afraid to talk freely. While it's good to keep out bad language or hate, there's a risk of going too far and making players feel like they're always being watched. With ToxMod coming to Call of Duty globally when Modern Warfare 3 launches on November 10, only time will tell if this tool helps the game or if it turns into a nosy neighbor we all wish would mind its own business. I for one, don't love the direction of where all this is leading...