AI to the rescue: Anyone who's played an online competitive game for longer than a few hours -- and with random users instead of friends -- has probably encountered a jerk or two. Trash-talking is a staple of online gaming, and can even be a bit of fun to participate in at its best. However, at its worst, it can lead to toxicity and harassment, which Intel is seeking to combat using the power of AI.

The hardware maker has created a piece of software called "Bleep," which uses machine learning to filter out unsavory language over voice chat. Bleep will be optional, of course -- not everyone is bothered by the same language (and some people aren't bothered by any of it), so Intel provides Bleep users with a high degree of control over their experience.

You can be as broad or narrow as you'd like with your adjustments. If you just want a set it and forget it option, you can choose to "Bleep" Some, Most, or All toxic chat. Alternatively, you can block out different categories of "hateful and abusive speech," such as ableism and body shaming, LGBTQ+ hate, misogyny, name-calling, racism, white nationalism, and even the "N-word."

As with the broader controls, depending on your preferences, you can tell Bleep to block out None, Some, Most, or All of the language from each category (except the N-word, which is a binary on/off switch).

Some would argue that banter and name-calling are part of the online gaming experience, and perhaps they'd be right -- but Intel says nearly a quarter of gamers (22 percent) quit games outright due to harassment and toxicity. In the company's mind, this illustrates a "complex problem" that the "entire industry" needs to address sooner rather than later. Intel acknowledges that Bleep isn't a complete solution to the issue, but feels it is still a step in the right direction.

For transparency's sake, the percentage quoted above comes from a survey conducted by the Anti Defamation League in November 2020. It used a sample size of 1,000 US-based gamers between the ages of 18 and 45.

Bleep will launch sometime later this year, and it sounds like it will be freely available to everyone -- or, at least, everyone running an Intel-based system.

Masthead credit: mapo_japan