The US military plans to use deep fakes and take over appliances for propaganda
Can you create cutting edge “deep fake” videos, spy on people using household appliances, and make massive data dragnets? If so, the Pentagon wants to hear from you so it can amp up its manipulation efforts.
US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) has issued proposal requests for a whole host of dodgy services, according to new documents obtained by The Intercept.
Specifically, the Pentagon is looking for “next generation capability to ‘takeover’ Internet of Things (IoT) devices in order to collect data and information from local populaces to enable a breakdown of what messaging might be popular and accepted through sifting of data once received.”
For what purpose? “This would enable MISO [Military Information Support Operations] to craft and promote messages that may be more readily received by the local populace in relevant peer/near peer environments,” according to the document.
Despite publicly obsessing over others’ foreign interference and propaganda, Washington is now openly admitting that it is actively seeking these new technologies for its own “influence operations, digital deception, communication disruption, and disinformation campaigns at the tactical edge and operational levels.” You know, exactly the same kind of thing, over which it drums up fear as a threat to freedom and democracy among the general public.
Earlier this year, a Washington-based advisory firm OODA published a report warning that Chinese-made household items could not only be spying on you, but basically fronting for the Chinese government. The report’s author called for the British government to act on claims that Chinese-made Internet of Things appliances, and even car components, can collect and transmit data through cellular 5G networks to Chinese companies, which could then be ordered to pass it on to the government. The story was hysterically splashed across British media.
OODA describes itself as a “global strategic advisory firm with deep DNA in global security, technology and intelligence issues.” The genetics run deep, indeed: straight to the Pentagon and Western intelligence communities where its executives, experts and advisers have past or current working relationships.
So now it looks like calls to ban Chinese household appliances for their spying potential have turned into Washington wanting to get in on the action by obtaining the best possible front row seat as you stand in front of your refrigerator at midnight, chugging chocolate milk straight from the carton.
The Pentagon also wants to be able to create “deep fake” videos that can realistically portray fake events as real, in an attempt to manipulate the target viewer(s). Or, as the Pentagon puts it, to “generate messages and influence operations via non-traditional channels in relevant peer/near peer environments.” It’s hard to imagine a more glaring example of actual fake news, yet the Pentagon wants to produce it in the way that Netflix makes movies and TV shows.
Finally, the Pentagon says that they want to get their hands on “a next generation capability to collect disparate data through public and open source information streams such as social media, local media, etc. to enable MISO to craft and direct influence operations and messages in relevant peer/near peer environments.”
Some might be tempted to just shrug this off as conventional practice because, when the military is tracking down bad guys, they’re obviously going to want to use every possible tool available at their disposal – and constantly seek to expand that tool box. But recent evidence suggests that military-grade collection and subversion tools targeting online and conventional information platforms have largely been turned on the average citizen for the purpose of protecting the establishment and its various narratives from dissent rather than for reasons of national security.
Last December, for example, Twitter CEO Elon Musk worked with a journalist to reveal the collusion between US government authorities and the social media platform to manipulate and censor public debate over the Covid-19 pandemic. According to internal Twitter documents, one of the first meetings that the Biden Administration requested with Twitter executives was on the topic of Covid vaccines and specific high-profile accounts that deviated from the official narrative. According to the journalist, David Zweig, “Twitter did suppress views – many from doctors and scientific experts – that conflicted with the official positions of the White House. As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing.” He added that, “With Covid, this bias bent heavily toward establishment dogmas,” and cited examples of various experts, including prominent epidemiologists, whose views were censored as a result of being qualified by the Twitter staff as Covid “misinformation.”
Earlier this year, a British whistleblower also revealed that critics of Covid-19-related lockdowns and vaccine mandates – including prominent journalists and politicians – were monitored by the UK army’s information warfare brigade. The 77th Brigade, created in 2015 and described by the media at the time as composed of “warriors who don't just carry weapons, but who are also skilled in using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and the dark arts of ‘psyops’”.
The Canadian military was also caught using propaganda techniques honed on the battlefield in Afghanistan to shape the Covid debate by boosting the government’s narrative and attempting to head off any civil unrest over the harsh mandates.
The Pentagon’s latest wish list raises concerns that these tools will also be deployed on average Americans or Westerners for purposes of control and manipulation. Last September, the Pentagon vowed to review its secret psyops, but only after public outrage when a group of researchers suggested collusion between US government entities and American online platforms like Twitter and Facebook to control online narratives with fake accounts. Was the lesson learned to stop deploying psyops on average citizens? Or was it just to do a better job of keeping it secret?
Not that there’s any shortage of Western establishment cheerleaders demanding even more psychological manipulation efforts by the US government, if only to counter “disinformation” from foreign adversaries.
It seems that we’ve now come to the point where sticking it to Russia and China means actively cheerleading the increasingly militarized efforts by our self-styled defenders of freedom and democracy to brainwash their own people.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.