Scout: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine

Stories are always at risk for manipulation, but technology can now analyze and recruit individuals to unwittingly promote specific, even false, ideas. Berit Anderson and Brett Horvath, writing for Scout, argue the challenge is larger than fake news. Big data analysis, surveillance, AI, programmed bots, Facebook posts, sophisticated behavior assessments, computational psychology and fake news networks are combined “to manipulate our opinions and behavior to advance specific political agendas.” Analysts can find potential recruits simply by monitoring posts “liked” on Facebook or other social media. Companies purchase data on shopping habits, home ownership, church attendance, subscriptions and health – combining all this with public data including voter rolls, to predict behavior and micro-target specific users for ads and stories heavily linked in a one-way flow to reinforcing material, allowing a single network to spread ideas in minutes. Individuals, paid or volunteers, operate hundreds of social-media accounts to attack an opponent, and AI can automatically create YouTube videos on current events. Anderson and Horvath urge awareness of the new capabilities, concluding “Elections in 2018 and 2020 won’t be a contest of ideas, but a battle of automated behavior change.” – YaleGlobal

Scout: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine

A new automated propaganda machine driving global politics – how it works and what it will mean for the future of democracy
Berit Anderson and Brett Horvath
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

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