Disinfo Radar aims to identify new disinformation technologies at an early stage by way of automated text-analysis tools. By auto-collecting and auto-analysing electronic preprint repositories (e.g., arXiv), industry papers (e.g., syncedreview.com), and policy publications (e.g., IEEE), Disinfo Radar scans the environment for indications of emerging technologies. Through a daily updated pipeline, it collects, processes, and subjects texts to state-of-the-art machine learning models in order to identify technical innovations that could be abused for disinformation purposes.
Once texts have been collected (i.e., auto-collection powered by web-scraping), they are assessed using a self-trained classifier (i.e., a support vector machine). The classifier serves as a form of pre-selection. In evaluating a text, the classifier determines whether it (a) refers to a particular technology and (b) whether that technology has the potential to mislead or increase mis- and disinformation. This classifier was trained using approximately 1,000 descriptions of diverse AI tools determined by DRI experts to have the greatest disinformation potential. Among these are the latest text-generation models (e.g., GPT-3), and text-to-image or text-to-video generators (e.g., Dall-E 2, Stable Diffusion, or Meta’s Make-A-Video).
After passing the pre-selection round, the originality of the texts is re-evaluated. A second machine learning algorithm measures whether a given text is an outlier. Outliers, in this context, are those texts that contain novel textual information. Such novel elements might, inter alia, be bespoke model names, new approaches to leveraging data, or new forms of synthetic content. It is important to note that outliers can occur for various reasons, including a unique style or vocabulary an author uses. As such, Disinfo Radar works on the basis of the interplay between automation and expert assessment. Disinfo Radar identifies these outliers by using transformer models (deep learning models that incorporate self-attention mechanisms). As these algorithms assist in clustering texts based on similarity, they can also be leveraged for identifying outliers.
Identifying outliers in the previous steps assists DRI’s disinformation experts in their qualitative analysis. Using the registry results, they evaluate the identified technologies and determine the threat potential of each by conducting additional desk research. When a technology is seen as embodying a potential threat, meaning that it could potentially be used to produce or amplify disinformation, DRI utilises the data obtained from the registry to inform potential stakeholders.