By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) The alleged ‘war on fake news’ is continuing apace as the Pentagon’s super-secret technology agency will seek to develop new artificially intelligence (AI) tools aimed at combatting “disinformation.”
Bloomberg News reports that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is looking for customized software that is able to locate fake reports that are intermingled with more than 500,000 stories, photos, video clips and audio. If it works, the Pentagon, after four years’ worth of trials, could expand them to unearth malicious intent and prevent fake news from going viral and polarizing Americans.
“A decade ago, today’s state-of-the-art would have registered as sci-fi — that’s how fast the improvements have come,” Andrew Grotto at the Center for International Security at Stanford University told Bloomberg. “There is no reason to think the pace of innovation will slow any time soon.”
The Trump administration, through various agencies, has been working to develop plans to prevent outside actors from inundating social media platforms for false information as the 2020 election cycle heats up.
Some in Congress have been working on legislation to advance the agenda as well, though nothing of import has been debated or voted on.
Meantime, Left-leaning news sites — like Bloomberg — continue to claim that President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 thanks in large part to fake news and bots compliments of Russia.
“Only about 100 of the ads overtly mentioned support for Donald Trump or opposition to Hillary Clinton. A few dozen referenced questions about the U.S. election process and voting integrity, while a handful mentioned other candidates like Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush,” the paper reported.
Many of the ad buys focused on race, as USA Today reported:
A Facebook page called “Back the Badge” landed on Oct. 19, 2016, following a summer that saw more than 100 Black Lives Matter protests, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests in August and protests over the police shootings of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte.
The information analyzed by the USA TODAY NETWORK shows the Internet Research Agency paid 110,058 rubles, or $1,785, for the Facebook spot. It targeted 20- to 65-year-olds interested in law enforcement who had already liked pages such as “The Thin Blue,” “Police Wives Unite” and the “Officer Down Memorial Page.”
The very next day, the influence operation paid for an ad depicting two black brothers handcuffed in Colorado for “driving while black.” That ad targeted people interested in Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and black history. Within minutes, the Russian company targeted the same group with an ad that said “police brutality has been the most recurring issue over the last several years.”
But Cold War-era analysts are quick to note that the Russia propaganda campaign during the 2016 elections was nothing new: Moscow has been doing the same thing since the days of the old Soviet Union, and as experts note, inflaming race relations has always been a favorite tactic.
“Soviet news media always played up U.S. racism, exaggerating the levels of hatred even beyond the horrific levels of the reality in the 1950s,” USC professor Nick Cull, author of The Cold War and the United States Information Agency, told the paper in an email. “It was one reason Eisenhower decided to move on civil rights.”
And there’s another aspect to the current DARPA program to root out ‘fake news’ that may not have yet been considered: What happens when so-called ‘mainstream’ news organizations report intentionally false information put out by a U.S. government agency like the CIA, FBI, or Justice Department — as was the case in “Spygate,” the Obama-initiated coup attempt against President Trump?
All sorts of news outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and the TV networks reported information spoon-fed to them from deep state operatives that Trump was a Russian stooge and that he “colluded” with Moscow to “steal the election” — when in fact, if any campaign worked with Russia (and the Ukraine) to affect the election outcome, it was the Clinton campaign.
“The risk factor is social media being abused and used to influence the elections,” Syracuse University assistant professor of communications Jennifer Grygiel told Bloomberg News. “It’s really interesting that DARPA is trying to create these detection systems but good luck is what I say. It won’t be anywhere near perfect until there is legislative oversight. There’s a huge gap and that’s a concern.”
Even legislation won’t prevent established news organizations from regurgitating fake narratives fed to them by deep state operatives, especially if the outlets in question are politically opposed to the president.
This is a problem because as Bloomberg further reports, there is a legitimate threat from “deepfakes” and it’s here:
False news stories and so-called deepfakes are increasingly sophisticated and making it more difficult for data-driven software to spot. AI imagery has advanced in recent years and is now used by Hollywood, the fashion industry and facial recognition systems. Researchers have shown that these generative adversarial networks — or GANs — can be used to create fake videos.
Famously, Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele created a fake video of former President Barack Obama talking about the Black Panthers, Ben Carson, and making an alleged slur against Trump, to highlight the risk of trusting material online.
And, of course, it’s not just Russia we have to worry about. There’s the North Koreans, the Chinese, the Iranians and, to be sure, even some of our “allies” who simply do not like President Trump.
DARPA’s objective is admirable. But like Grygiel said, when you factor in additional variables like our own government creating doubt and division with fake news and fake narratives, “good luck.”
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