US government funding more than 500 AI projects to track speech patterns, identify ‘misinformation’: report

The U.S. government is reportedly building out a corporate-led artificial intelligence network to monitor all online speech and silence any speech which doesn’t comply.

The proof lies in the 500+ contracts/grants related to “misinformation” and “disinformation” that the federal government has awarded since 2020, then-Republican President Donald Trump’s final year in office.

The grants are reportedly being used to convince businesses to convert their own artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology — used currently “to track discussions about their brands and products and to track competitors,” according to journalist Margot Cleveland — into government use.

“Originally used as a marketing tool for businesses to track discussions about their brands and products and to track competitors, the DOD and other federal agencies are now paying for-profit public relations and communications firms to convert their technology into tools for the government to monitor speech on the internet,” Cleveland explained in a recent report for The Federalist.

“The areas of the internet the companies monitor differ somewhat, and each business offers its own unique AI and ML proprietary technology, but the underlying approach and goals remain identical: The technology under development will ‘mine’ large portions of the internet and identify conversations deemed indicative of an emerging harmful narrative, to allow the government to track those ‘threats’ and adopt countermeasures before the messages go viral.”

(Source: Pexels)

How extensive could this network potentially be? One need only look at the grant recipients to see the full picture.

For example, PeatMetrics, which collected a $1.5 million grant, “tracks millions of news sites, blogs, global social platforms, podcasts, TV and radio, and email newsletters,” according to Cleveland.

Then there’s Omelas Inc, which collected over $1 million in grants. It reportedly culls data from “the most influential newspapers, TV channels, government offices, militant groups, and more across a dozen social networks and messaging apps, thousands of websites, and thousands of RSS feeds.”

Next is Alethea Group, which reportedly received a “Phase 1” grant of $50,000 to develop a “machine learning tool for proactive disinformation/misinformation detection, assessment, and mitigation.” Cleveland notes that the company boasts of how it covers mainstream and “fringe” social media platforms, in addition to “peer-to-peer messaging platforms, blogs and forums, state-affiliated media sites, ‘gray’ propaganda sites, and the dark web.”

Even NewsGuard, which has been criticized by BizPac Review for its unfair practices, is taking part.

“Newsguard, awarded $750,000 by the DOD, offers two databases, including its unreliable reliability ratings database of thousands of news and information websites and a second database of purported hoaxes,” Cleveland notes.

How might these technologies be used to silence Americans? For an example, look no further than to what Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, said during a conference call last week with the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation about the Silicon Valley Bank bailout.

“Kelly asked during a meeting about the bailout of Silicon Valley Bank whether social media could be censored to prevent misinformation going out that could lead to a bank run,” Fox News reported.

Cleveland notes that this technology clearly could be used to censor any and all speech, regardless of whether it poses a real threat.

“By its nature, AI and ML technology has unlimited potential to flag problematic speech on any imaginable subject. Here, the past is prologue: Speech need not involve terrorism, acts of war, or even our electoral process for our government to consider it within its purview to fact-check,” she writes.

She also points to the “Twitter Files” as further proof. The files have shown how the government repeatedly tried pressuring the social media platform Twitter into doing its bidding and silencing dissenters.

“The ‘Twitter Files’ and recent events provide Americans a glimpse into the breadth of the topics the government may deem harmful narratives worthy of censor—from elections, to vaccines, to runs on grocery stores,” Cleveland writes.

“Underlying the government’s obsession with silencing misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information is the ‘Great Power Competition’ perspective of foreign relations, under which China and Russia represent a constant threat to America’s power, influences, and interests,” she continues.

“With the government viewing foreign relations through the Great Power Competition paradigm, speech on any topic, touching even tangentially on America’s ‘power, influences, and interests,’ will be fair game for censorship efforts,” she concludes.


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