An anti-Trump political action committee will use DARPA-funded artificial intelligence and network analysis to map discussion of President Trump’s claims over social media and target pro-Trump accounts during the 2020 election.
The PAC, advised by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, will deploy the technology originally developed to counter propaganda from the Islamic State, according to the Washington Post.
The group, Defeat Disinfo, will use artificial intelligence and network analysis to map discussion of the president’s claims on social media. It will seek to intervene by identifying the most popular counter-narratives and boosting them through a network of more than 3.4 million influencers across the country — in some cases paying users with large followings to take sides against the president. –Washington Post
Spearheaded by Curtis Hougland – who says he received initial funding for the technology from the Pentagon’s shadowy research arm; the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the initiative raises questions over whether taxpayer funds were being repurposed for political purposes, notes Fox News‘ Greg Re.
In a statement to Fox News, DARPA outright rejected the Post’s reporting, and said that Hougland was misrepresenting their work.
“Hougland’s claim DARPA funded the tech at the heart of his political work is grossly misleading,” DARPA tweeted. “He advised briefly on ways to counter ISIS online. He was not consulted to design AI or analysis tools, nor certainly anything remotely political. DARPA is strictly apolitical.”
Hougland’s claim DARPA funded the tech at the heart of his political work is grossly misleading. He advised briefly on ways to counter ISIS online. He was not consulted to design AI or analysis tools, nor certainly anything remotely political. DARPA is strictly apolitical.
— DARPA (@DARPA) May 4, 2020
“Hougland had a tertiary consulting role advising an agency program on how to explore new and better ways to counter America’s adversaries online,” a DARPA spokesperson told Fox News, adding “He was not consulted for technical expertise designing artificial intelligence or network analysis tools, nor certainly any research that was remotely political. … Unequivocally, DARPA funding did not help advance the technology with which Hougland now works any more than does his use of other agency technologies like the internet or mobile phone.”
Meanwhile, Hougland’s PAC will pay influencers to convey their messaging, according to the Post – a tactic which Mike Bloomberg’s campaign took heat for earlier this year.
“I have no trepidation about paying content creators in seeking out and amplifying the best narratives.”
McChrystal told the Post that while the operation might appear unseemly, it’s necessary.
“Everyone wishes the Pandora’s box was closed and none of this existed, but it does.”