One aspect that I found especially fascinating during the R-Shief lecture was the question on whether more data about the users should be collected. Professor Sakr stated her concern for the user’s security since the R-Shief software might not only be used by people with academic intentions. Governments or other groups might try to find out which users are spreading opinions that oppose their agenda and try to mute, imprison, torture or even kill them. The question on whether scientists should be held responsible on what others do with their findings is not new and in this case I am with Professor Sakr. It is of course interesting to learn more about the users, but the negative consequences of creating such an open-source software are too blatant and likely to ignore. The helpful insights that scholars might get cannot outweigh the fact that such a tool might lead to the killing of human beings fighting for their rights.
Another highly discussed issue was the aspect of translation. R-Shief does not translate any of its findings and Professor Sakr explained that with the unreliableness of automatic translation tools. She furthermore said that if one wants to do research on a country, one should either study the language or at least consult a translator as that is going to lead to a far better understanding than just looking at a automatically translated text. While automatic translation tools might have improved over the last years, they are still not as intelligent as a human being can be. Language is such an important part of culture and it shapes our understanding of the world, language itself transmits more than the mere content. Automatic translation tools might face problems if there is no linguistic equivalent, if different dialogues are used or puns are made. One video that adequately shows that automatic translations should not blindly be trusted can be found below.