When artificial intelligence becomes the cyber-bully

Educational Psychologist of Trinity warns against the possibility of cyber robotic attacks, in a book launched on Safer Internet Day


A book which was co-edited by Dr. Conor McGuckin, Trinity Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology, and Dr. Lucie Corcoran of Dublin Business School (DBS) was launched on the February 7, Safer Internet Day. The book is titled “Bullying and Cyber-bullying: Prevalence, Psychological Impacts and Intervention Strategies.” With it, the editors are seeking to support young people who engage in online communities, safeguarding them from harm. Dr. McGuckin has forewarned the impending change of the online world to a point whereby artificial intelligence will be the standard for cyber attacks.

The book covers issues ranging from coping and intervening procedures to the future challenges of the online world. Speaking about the book, Dr. McGuckin said that “it is the most up-to-date international record on the issue from the top researchers in the area. It serves to remind us of the huge personal challenges that children and young people face in their daily lives”, He furthered “this ‘always-on’ generation are suffering greatly in silence. Emotionally, they really struggle to keep-up with the new developments – new apps, sexting, radicalisation among other issues. [We] are very concerned about the mental health and well-being of these youngsters.”

The book provides an overview of international cyber-bullying research to date, along with the issues facing professionals and researchers. The outcomes detailed in the book show that despite 15 years of international research, only recently have we come to understand the primary concerns with regard to cyber-bullying. It is noted that cyber-bullying cases continue to rapidly increase in number.

Other findings assert that coping procedures are implemented without difficulty and that intervention schemes that target one-to-one bullying also assist in the reduction of cyber-bullying. The book notes that planning should be implemented in preparation for cyber robotic attacks: “The speed of escalation regarding cyber-bullying is frightening. They, and we, still have huge challenges ahead with the daily developments in robotics and artificial intelligence. We are concerned about this – the reality that the bullies could be a mixture of both children and robotic / artificial intelligence devices.”

Discussing the research in this field, Dr.McGuckin stated that “as we enter 2017 we have very stark and very real decisions to make – do we continually tolerate aggression and violence like this among our children – or will we practice what we preach to each other on social media about the injustices across the world? Do we want to accept that bullying is just a fact of life and growing up – or do we want to assert ourselves and say that we will each take a stand against one of the biggest impediments to a happy childhood and enjoyable educational experience? We are the adults – they are the children. We must mind and protect the education, health, and well-being of our children.”

Seana Davis

Seana Davis is a fourth year Geology student and News Editor of Trinity News.