To See the Future of Disinformation, You Build Robo-Trolls

Editor’s Note:  IPA and the idea of cognitive security are rooted in the understanding that to ensure the free flow of ideas in pursuit of democratic ideals we must first understand human decision-making and then look at the technical tools used that seek to modify our behavior.  To understand the threat from the latter, you must have a basic understanding of the former.

Excerpt from Wired:

Jason Blazakis’ automated far-right propagandist knows the hits. Asked to complete the phrase “The greatest danger facing the world today,” the software declared it to be “Islamo-Nazism,” which it said will cause “a Holocaust on the population of Europe.” The paragraph of text that followed also slurred Jews and admonished that “nations who value their peoples [sic] legends need to recognize the magnitude of the Islamic threat.”

Blazakis is director of the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counter-Terrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where researchers are attempting to preview the future of online information warfare. The text came from machine-learning software they had fed a collection of manifestos from right-wing terrorists and mass murderers such as Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik. “We want to see what dangers may lie ahead,” says Blazakis.