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Spectrum Labs has created natural language AI that can parse online text for toxic behavior. And now it has discovered how to identify and reward healthy online behavior.
The Miami-based company has launched its first-ever Healthy Behavior AI in partnership with: Together LabsIMVU, one of the world’s largest social gaming platforms – or, as we call them today, a metaverse platform. (It turns out they met at our GamesBeat Summit 2022 event in April and started this partnership). It turns out that encouraging positive play can lead to a better return on investment, said Justin Davis, CEO of Spectrum Labsin an interview with GamesBeat.
Of 80% of US online gamers have experienced harassmentThis integration strengthens existing content moderation AI, which removes toxic content, by creating the ability to recognize and reward pro-social behavior from users.
Since implementing Spectrum Labs’ toxic content moderation AI, Together Labs has seen directionally positive results comparing retention in moderated and unmoderated rooms, said Maura Welch, vice president of marketing at Together Labs, in an email to GamesBeat. .
“We’re known as the company that has leveraged AI to detect the really bad stuff on the platform,” Davis said. “And it takes a lot of R&D investment to detect a certain behavior in a certain language to a certain level of acceptable standards so that a customer can not only learn from the data generated from it, but actually take action against users in a scalable way.”
Davis said Togethe Labs has been able to achieve a significant increase in user retention with the help of Spectrum Labs.
“We’ve just done a really good job of deploying our technology to drive user engagement and retention,” said Davis. “As you know, the cost of acquiring customers has never been higher, the demand for people’s attention has never been higher. And so once you get someone on your platform, you have to do a really good job of making sure they have a great first time experience on that platform. And if you do a good job with that first visit per user, they are six times more likely to come back.”
That comes back to improve revenue and it serves to weed out toxic users.
“But you don’t build a positive or healthy community by just removing the bad,” Davis said. “We started brainstorming in Los Angeles about how to use and apply that technology not to identify the bad behavior and bad users, but to identify the good people.”
Early results show that the average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) was 12% higher for specific users who were protected from seeing toxic speech, Davis said. Both companies believe that combining AI for moderating toxic content with the ability to also recognize positive user behavior will result in better engagement, retention and revenue for the first time.
“As the next generation of games becomes more immersive, more of the gameplay experience is about the interactions between players, which is where natural language leadership can help AI shape better user experiences,” said Davis. “In the past, Trust and Security was all about removing toxic content and bad actors, but now it’s about shaping player experiences to create resilience and drive retention. User interactions affect the user experience, which affects revenue.”
Spectrum Labs said it uses the most advanced natural language contextual AI to help platforms scale content moderation on gaming platforms by detecting toxic behaviors and users and taking action for text and audio content in any language.
With the new Healthy Behavior AI product, game platforms will realize a new approach to retain more new users and increase the engagement of current players by activating their most helpful players, Davis said.
“These are exciting things. I mean, this is what everyone wants now,” Davis said.
Together Labs is one of the trial clients that provides testing and input on Healthy Behavior AI. Their portfolio includes metaverse leaders IMVU, WithMe, and MetaJuice.
“Our company’s mission is to empower people to connect in the metaverse, and we are deeply invested in innovation in social communication,” said Welch. “Uniquely, we focus on fostering human relationships based on the science of friendship. Our platforms have integrated rewards, levels and incentives that unlock the positivity, social experiences and sharing people need for authentic connection and fun. By engaging our most friendly and helpful players in using Spectrum Labs’ Healthy Behavior AI, we look forward to improving user experiences while increasing retention, engagement and revenue.”
From increased retention and revenue to freedom from toxicity and the design of positivity in gameplay, c-suite decision makers, vice presidents, managers and end users will all benefit from the activation of Healthy Behavior AI, according to Spectrum Labs.
After the gaming rollout, the company has plans to expand its Healthy Behavior AI to include a full suite of capabilities for social media and e-learning companies, among others, Davis said.
Spectrum Labs now employs about 50 people. Understanding text speech will be critical for developers building metaverse applications, Davis said.
Davis said not much research has been done on encouraging good behavior. Most focused on identifying hate speech, harassment and spam. But Spectrum Labs found a few things in common, like a good rapport or a good back-and-forth conversation.
There is also communication about education and invitations. Those things usually lead to a good experience for players. Players can find mentors and get more involved with the game or the platform. And the third common point is encouragement and cheerleading. It can be as simple as a high five.
“These three healthy behaviors are pretty consistent across every platform,” Davis said. “Now we are also more consciously looking for the good stuff so we can build these smarter, healthier and more resilient communities.”
Davis believes there is a link between encouraging healthy behavior and better financial results.
Davis said the company is now focusing on text analytics, but will add speech analytics over time. Spectrum Labs screens everything written on a platform. Now the company is analyzing all text speech on a platform and figuring out how to reward partners.
“You can get a more comprehensive view of good and bad, what’s happening on the platform,” Davis said.
The Together Labs experience
Welch said Together Labs researched many of the systems available and Spectrum Labs stood out as having a real understanding of how to improve moderation through intelligent chat filtering.
IMVU primarily serves an 18-24 demographic.
“Our goal is to improve moderation and safety without thwarting normal, informal, nontoxic speech,” Welch said. “Spectrum Labs proactively worked with us and ran a sample set of our data through their AI filters, which helped us gain confidence in the technology. Adding IMVU to the growing dataset Spectrum Labs uses to improve and improve their AI development benefits both our companies and above all, our missions are aligned: both companies are focused on making online environments for human connection more successful.”
Welch said the social fabric and the way people form connections determine success or failure in the metaverse or an online environment. And fundamentally, toxic behavior undermines the human connection. The problem that the companies are trying to solve is how to create online environments that are good for people.
But today’s social media is more about passively scrolling through content designed for clicks and views, and less about actually socializing together. We’re all spending more time online, and we’ve witnessed the loneliness, polarization and toxicity that “social” media can bring, Welch said. To reduce toxicity in online environments, we need to design for connection, she added.
“We know from the science of friendship that to make connections you have to hang out, have fun together and reveal something about yourself. And the bottom line… the must-have… is it has to be positive,” Welch said. “Science tells us we need five positive experiences to overcome one negative experience. Although only a minority of users toxic, those few can negatively affect many people, and conversely, healthy, hospitable behavior can have a positive impact.”
She added: “It sounds simple…but the way it unfolds is complex. It’s a social science, not a hard science. And that’s where natural language AI can help us identify and detect toxic speech. and with this latest development help us recognize and reward pro-social behavior.”
I asked how Together Labs uses positive reinforcement.
Welch said that IMVU’s engines of positivity are in the community itself and that it rewards and encourages them in multiple ways.
“Creators design great things and experiences and mentor each other. We provide them with ways to connect and build a following in the community,” said Welch. “We have 25,000 volunteer greeters who create positive first experiences for users and increase retention. We reward successful greeters with badges that status in the community, as well as unique digital assets. Hosts are our users who break the ice and keep the environment positive when they open a Space for people. We provide tools to help them keep the environment positive, such as the power to avoid toxic mute and boot users.”
Together Labs also has WithMe, a new metaverse now in open beta on the App Store, and it uses a Kudos system. Users can praise others every day for being good teammates or for being friendly. Receiving these Kudos builds reputation and status in the community.
“We know from the science of friendship that doing a range of different types of experiences together is important for connection,” Welch said. “On WithMe, our Escape Rooms are designed to build trust as users solve them together. Side-by-side games, such as Trivia games, are known to develop connection. And we provide icebreakers by watching videos or drawing together.”
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