Published On: Sat, Feb 15th, 2020

US election warning: Cyber attack expert cautions 2020 poll to be ‘dirtiest EVER’ | World | News

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Dr Samuel Wooley, the co-founder of the Computational Propaganda Project at the University of Oxford, believes this election will be like no other, with voters both exploited and influenced by increasingly sophisticated technology and social media. He told Express.co.uk: “This year’s American presidential election will be the dirtiest and is going to be fraught with misinformation and disinformation.

“We’ve learned a lot since 2016 and there’s been a lot of changes that have been made by companies like Facebook and Google.

“But we haven’t we haven’t conquered the problem and we haven’t really caught up on this issue.

“It’s very clear people in the United States and also people abroad are more than willing to use incredibly underhanded tactics online to both make themselves look better but also to defame their opposition.

The expert believes Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) will all be used to influence peoples voting decisions in a way like no other.

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“We’re also beginning to see the rise of deepfake video.

“I think deep think video is still in the process of being developed into something that can be very viable for use in computational propaganda.”

Forms of deep fake video – where advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) could soon make creating convincing fake audio and video – are already available online, albeit for less nefarious purposes.

He said: “There are those created by comedians and others being accidentally spread by regular people thinking they’re real.

“It seems as if even simply edited photos, like the recent one of Obama and the Iranian leader shaking hands and manipulated video are burgeoning in their role as disinformation tools.”

The US-based expert thinks the third issue which will be at play as Donald Trump seeks re-election are the ways in which computational propaganda and manipulation will happen via virtual reality and augmented reality.

He said: “There’s already large social networks on virtual reality.

“And there’s been a ton of money put into this by the world’s largest technology companies.

“As I say in my book, ‘the body has no metric for fake’.

“And so we’ve got to try to prevent the spread of malicious disinformation on virtual reality before it starts.”

The author about tech manipulation also believes both citizens, political parties and nations will be involved in confusing voters.

He said: “We’ve seen a lot evidence of misinformation being spread by all different kinds of Americans.

“So we know Russia, for instance, targeted both Republicans and Democrats in the 2016 election and we saw people from those groups spread this misinformation.

“That being said, in our analyses, a lot of the time, the majority of this information that gets spread tends to come from from Republicans on the far right.”

Dr Samuel Woolley’s book “The Reality Game: How the Next Wave of Technology will Break the Truth – and What you can do About it” is out now.



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