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Russia’s startup-style approach to cyberwarfare is why it’s so good at fake news

January 30, 2018

Willingness to experiment and take risks helps make Russia a fearsome digital propaganda machine.

Background: Russia has carried out incredibly effective online misinformation campaigns, particularly around the 2016 US election.

Why it’s good: At the AI Congress in London today, Keith Dear, an intelligence officer in the UK’s Royal Air Force and an experimental psychology researcher at Oxford, explained one of the nation’s secrets:

“Russia has a much higher risk tolerance than most nations. They try an awful lot of things out publicly that we wouldn't do for fear of failure. I would be surprised if they didn’t refine their use of algorithms and improve their use of AI by rolling it out very quickly.”

More to come: Researchers have shown AI can make realistic fake footage that fools humans. Dear suggests Russia will move quickly to start using it to manufacture fake content.

How to fight it: World leaders and startups reckon AI could be used to weed out fake news. So far, the likes of Facebook and Google beg to differ.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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