Dhaka,  Monday
24 June 2024

More efficient fact-checking mechanisms needed for AI

Messenger Online

Published: 19:22, 26 May 2024

More efficient fact-checking mechanisms needed for AI

Photo : Collected

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) President Major General (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman on Sunday (26 May) said it is important for everyone to understand all the connotations of this new space of influence operations so that no one is misguided.

He particularly referred to Artificial Intelligence (AI) for elucidating how it can complicate the whole issue and magnify the problems that they are already facing.

“The advent of AI has made the situation far more complex”, he said, pointing out the necessity of establishing more efficient fact-checking mechanisms and forensic labs in Bangladesh.

Muniruzzaman said the threat associated with influence operations is evolving every day and in a rapid manner.

BIPSS organized the policy circle on “Influence Operations: An Emerging Threat” in Dhaka.

Country Representative- Bangladesh, Internews Shameem Ara Sheuli, lecturer, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka Tanvir Habib, and lecturer, Department of Peace, Conflict and Human Rights, Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) Marjuka Binte Afzal were the speakers who shared their knowledge and perspectives on the discussion topic.

Senior Research Fellow, BIPSS Shafqat Munir said influence operations are emerging as a key security and political challenge in many countries.

Among many facets of influence operations, Munir highlighted how it undermines democracy and societies.

“Over the last ten years, we have seen in various countries of Europe, Asia and other continents how various actors have used influence operations to divide societies and spread disinformation”, he said.

He also mentioned that even elections have been undermined as a result of influence operations.

“We are now increasingly living in the information space. The utmost importance of information has become critical not only to our individual lives but also to our social lives, our national lives and our international thinking”, Muniruzzaman said.

Shamim Ara Sheuli depicted that before the 1990s, the authorities, influential groups, political parties and others used to rely on traditional media platforms like radio, and television to influence the targeted groups; but with the emergence of some new information technologies, a new dimension to the influence operations has been added.

“Influence operations are nothing new, it has always been there”, she said while differentiating the tools that facilitate these types of operations. She also identified that AI has become a new tool for influencing operations and that it can be threatening to some extent.

Tanvir Habib talked about how influence operations are initiated with the intention of creating certain outcomes and how these can create particular reactions among the targeted group of people.

He identified some key features of the current world’s influence operations such as the aggregation or the abundance of data, the question of algorithm, anonymity, etc. among others.

“There are mainly two types of influence operations; one is longer term exposure and the other one is the shorter term”, he mentioned.

He described that the longer term operations may sustain for four to five years while the shorter ones may exist for a few months.

“There is a gradual formation of alignment of actors in terms of influence operations which indicates that actors are coordinating their influence operations across multiple domains and multiple narratives”, he further added.

Marjuka Binte Afzal expressed her eagerness to explore how Russian influence operations function.

“You are more likely to discuss those things which are shown as significant ones to you”, she said while elaborating how influence operations can have impacts on people’s minds.

Further, she stressed on the importance of understanding the true goals of different influence operations.

Marjuka also mentioned some terms like gatekeeping information, agenda setting, deepfake etc. to analyze the relation of those attributes to modern-day influence operations.

“We as young people need to practice the idea of patience”, she said while urging the need to shape the reactions of people after receiving certain information.

She also expressed concern regarding the lack of well-established fact-checking mechanisms in the news outlets of Bangladesh.

During the interactive session how influence operations can be deployed in a positive way, the role of non-state actors, how to cope with the threats, the impacts of geopolitical rivalries on influence operations, need of diversifying research issues were raised and discussed.

When questioned about the gullibility of people towards any information, Marjuka mentioned that people tend to be more gullible when he or she is ignorant; one can be influenced more when there is a lack of understanding regarding a certain topic. So awareness must be built. Social resiliency can be a key tool against influence operations.

Ambassadors and delegates from different embassies, former Bangladesh ambassadors, journalists, academicians, representatives from different organizations, and students attended the event.