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Complete your application – Enter the rest of the information required for the IC Postdoc Program Research Opportunity. The application itself contains detailed instructions for each one of these components: availability, citizenship, transcripts, dissertation abstract, publication and presentation plan, and information about your Research Advisor co-applicant.
Additional information about the IC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program is available on the program website located at: https://orise.orau.gov/icpostdoc/index.html.
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Research Topic Description, including Problem Statement:
While the online information environment plays an increasingly vital role in social, political and economic activity, at the same time it has become a theatre for “grey zone” activity where influence operations and disinformation campaigns are deployed as tools for coercive statecraft and orchestrated hostile activity.
Well publicized incidents have demonstrated that powerful narratives can be strategically deployed to underpin and sustain attacks on individuals, groups and nations: to misinform, to confuse, to polarize or to disempower. Further, the widespread availability of low-cost computer power coupled with the availability and sophistication of large language models (LLM) and other generative AI capabilities (image/art/meme), mean that the ability to orchestrate and automate influence on an industrial scale is increasingly within reach of small groups and individuals.
Thus, there exists a need to understand how these developments change the way that malicious influence operations can be orchestrated and executed in the online space, both to predict potential malign influence operations, identify threats (and identify threats at speed) and to deploy effective countermeasures.
Research proposals could tackle these issues from a variety of perspectives or adopt an integrated trans-disciplinary approach. The problem space intersects with cognitive- and social- psychology (including computational modelling of inference and influence at the individual, group and population
level), artificial intelligence (particularly the generative capabilities of LLMs and image/art/meme generation), data science (data assimilation & visualization, and social network analysis), and defense-science (situational awareness, command and control, machine facilitated planning).
Possible lines of investigation might involve:
Relevance to the Intelligence Community:
While high-profile online influence operations have entered the public consciousness, the full scope of present and future threats is often unclear. Consequently, when malign influence campaigns do become apparent, a swift response is required. Developing predictive capabilities supports early warning, thereby extending planning lead-time. Enhanced situational awareness supports better identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in contested online spaces. Machine automation and facilitation allows offensive operations to be rapidly planned, monitored and updated. Taken together, these advanced tools and techniques aim to support the intelligence community to more effectively deny, degrade, or disrupt malign influence operations.
Josh A. Goldstein, Girish Sastry, Micah Musser, Renee Di Resta, Matthew Gentzel, Katerina Sedova, (2023) ‘Generative language models and automated influence operations: Emerging threats and potential mitigations’, arXiv:2301.04246 [cs.CY], https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2301.04246.
Key Words: Detecting online influence, behavioral science, cognitive psychology, narrative visualization, information operations, counterinfluence, generative AI, large language models.