Researchers develop text-based fingerprinting tool

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If you’ve spent any time online, you know the internet is infested with bots and shit-whackers of all stripes pretending to be people they’re not. Although the proliferation of robots, in particular, is difficult to measure, a 2020 report from cybersecurity firm Imperva found that more than a quarter (37.2%) of all internet users are non-human. It’s a lot. Mix that in with everyone operating under pseudonyms and you start to realize that much of the modern internet, to some degree, is false. But what if there was a tool that could combat this tampering and identify the author of a given message based solely on the linguistic styles of their text?

Experts from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the research wing of the intelligence community, are using artificial intelligence and heaps of online text data to create such an identity verification marker, NextGov notes in a recent report. The rResearchers hope that one day this “fingerprint” text could play an important role in identifying the individuals behind disinformation campaigns and the fight against human trafficking.

“Imagine you had machine-generated text that was created online to run a disinformation campaign,” IARPA program director Dr. Timothy McKinnon told NextGov. “What technology will be able to do is that it will be able to identify, potentially, the fact that a machine generated the text, and also help you understand which groups are engaged in these activities. »

The proposed text-based fingerprinting technique would work somewhat similarly to other methods used by forensic experts to determine a person’s identity based on their handwriting. Just as humans have tiny little individual differences and idiosyncrasies in the way they write a word, online writers similarly have their own narratives when writing sentences online.

“Imagine if you had 100 different people and you asked them to describe something simple – like how to open a door – in two sentences or one sentence, you’d probably get around 100 different responses, right?” McKinnon asked. “And, you know, each person kind of has their own idiosyncrasies as an author that are potentially used by systems of attribution of authorship.”

With enough input data, McKinnon believes an AI tool could determine a fingerprint based solely on written text. Armed with this technology, a government agency could potentially determine if a bad actor was trying to impersonate someone else online, or perhaps tell if something impersonating a human online was in just a bot spewing misinformation.

Whether or not it is a Well It probably depends on how problematic you think misinformation and disinformation campaigns are and how much value you place on the idea of ​​online anonymity. Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates may shudder at the prospect of a powerful new fingerprinting tool being used by state agencies, especially in the wake of recently declassified documents retailer mass data collection directed by the CIA.

But before anyone microwaves their laptop, it’s worth noting that the particular use cases around IARPA’s text fingerprinting tools remain largely theoretical. McKinnon was quick to note that IARPA concentrates mainly on exploratory projects and does not necessarily determine how the technology will develop over the long term or how government partners will choose to deploy it.

Nevertheless, there are also some potential aspects of technology that preserve privacy. After identifying a user’s thumbprint, for example, someone could then go in and slightly edit the text so that it no longer resembles the original author.

Regardless of your feelings towards a new AI system, this day was inevitable. Along with mainstays like fingerprints and facial recognition, researchers have determined ways to identify people based on their voice, Steps, fecesand even their ass.

About Roberto Frank

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