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Fighting Disinformation Online with Ben Dubow of Omelas
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Fighting Disinformation Online with Ben Dubow of Omelas

Episode 169
Transcript

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Once platforms for connection and communication, social media now often serves as a battleground for digital deception, with algorithms sometimes amplifying extremist content, including jihadi propaganda and anti-Semitism. This complex digital landscape calls for a sophisticated approach to separate the truth from manipulation.

Our guest today, Benjamin Dubow, is an expert in navigating this challenging digital terrain. As President and CTO of Omelas, he brings a wealth of experience from his days of monitoring extremist content to leading a company that uses open-source intelligence to combat disinformation.

Ben shares his journey and how his expertise in tracking and understanding loyalty to terrorist groups has evolved into addressing broader influence operations by major world powers. He delves into the ethical considerations in AI-driven intelligence and the dynamic nature of misinformation, offering an in-depth look at the societal implications of these phenomena.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the interplay between technology, international politics, and the changing digital world.

About Ben Dubow:
Benjamin Dubow is the CTO and President of Omelas, a company that blends expert knowledge with artificial intelligence to provide comprehensive context behind data. He is also a fellow at the Center for European Policy and Analysis. His role at Omelas showcases his profound expertise in data architecture and machine learning, enabling him to conduct extensive and innovative research and analysis. Additionally, he is multilingual and proficient in Arabic, French, Farsi, and Russian, which enhances his capabilities in global tech and policy arenas.

Prior to Omelas, Ben was the President of Code To Inspire, a nonprofit focused on teaching Afghan women coding skills and helping them secure online employment. He also worked as a consultant for Google, where he played a pivotal role in the removal of ISIS content from YouTube and was instrumental in establishing the Redirect Method, a digital counter-extremism effort. His background in technology and his commitment to social impact have marked him as a notable figure in both the tech and policy sectors.

In this episode, we discuss:

(01:27) Ben’s career transition from counterterrorism to tech-driven solutions at Omelas
(04:30) His experience at Google
(06:25) The opportunity he saw when founding Omelas
(07:15) Omelas' distinctive approach to open-source intelligence
(09:24) Techniques for content analysis and sentiment assessment in intelligence gathering
(11:10) Tackling misinformation and the data explosion in the digital age
(14:13) The importance of understanding different perspectives in data contextualization
(17:29) Analyzing the complex world of digital truth and the rise of disinformation
(22:14) The mechanics of Russian influence operations and their unique approaches
(29:17) Specific characteristics of jihadi propaganda and the influence of social media algorithms
(36:22) Omelas' role in counteracting extremist messaging and propaganda
(38:20) Exploring the implications of generative AI in shaping perceptions in information wars
(42:55) Outlining Omelas' vision and the significance of truth in information dissemination

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  5. 📚- Favorite Book: Searching for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

  6. 🤔 - Favorite Life Lesson: You only have a very, very small perspective of the world.

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