Agenda

April 2, 2018

8:00 8:20 a.m. Coffee & Light Breakfast

8:20 – 8:40 a.m. Introduction

Frank Sesno, Director, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University

Amb. Reuben Brigety, Dean, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University

Steven Livingston, Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University

8:40 – 9:10 a.m. The New Global Landscape

The talk focuses on the emergence of illiberal regimes and movements in Europe, Asia and North America and the growth in digital networks.

John Shattuck, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

9:15 – 10:40 a.m. Documentation & Fact-Based Discourse

Disinformation campaigns are but one expression of potential digital affordances, outcomes made realizable by technology. Digital technology also allows non-state actors to discover events and trends on what Elay Weizman calls "the threshold of detectability." As a baseline for our discussions of disinformation, this panels highlights the knowable, the revealed, the understood made possible by technology and scientific truth claims.

Panelists

  • Christina Varvia, Forensic Architecture, Goldsmith College-University of London
  • Malachy Browne, The New York Times
  • Aric Toler, Lead Researcher and Trainer, Bellingcat; Lead Digital Researcher for Eurasia, Digital Forensic Lab, Atlantic Council
  • Haishan Fu, Director, Development Data Group, World Bank
  • Michael Jensen, Senior Research Fellow, University of Canberra (moderator)

10:45 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. AI Effects

Bots and image-based rendering and manipulation impact the ability to distinguish reality from synthetic representations.  While some technology's help investigators document events, other technologies seem to undermine fact-based discourse. This sets up the fundamental tension found in technologies role in peace-building and human rights work.  Additional Key Words and Phrases: Audio, Face Synthesis, LSTM, RNN, Big data, Videos, Audiovisual Speech, Uncanny Valley, Lip.

Panelists

  • Aviv Ovadya, Chief Technologist, Center for Social Media Responsibility, University of Michigan
  • Robert Pless, Department Chair & Patrick & Donna Martin Professor of Computer Science, The George Washington University
  • David Doermann, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Douglas Guilbeault, Member of the Network Dynamics Group, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania; Member of the Computational Propaganda Project, Oxford Internet Institute
  • Steven Livingston, Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University (moderator)

12:10 – 1:10 p.m. Lunch

1:10 – 2:35 p.m. Contentious Narratives

Miskimmon, O'Loughlin, and Roselle define a "strategic narrative" as a "tool for political actors to extend their influence, manage expectations, and change the discursive environment in which they operate.” Disinformation campaigns can be thought of in these terms. This panel considers the major narrative themes found in recent major disinformation campaigns.

Panelists

  • Laura Roselle, Department of Political Science & Policy Studies, Elon University
  • Ben Nimmo, Atlantic Council, Digital Forensics Research Laboratory
  • Kate Starbird, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington
  • Jonathan Albright, Tow Center, Columbia University
  • Thomas Miller, Professorial Lecturer, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University (moderator)

2:40 – 4:05 p.m. Disinformation and Contested Narratives in Conflict-Fragile States

Disinformation, such as hate speech on social media or messaging apps, has the potential to exacerbate existing conflicts in conflict-fragile states. This panel explores some recent examples of this trend in Myanmar and a number of African countries.

Panelists

  • Catie Bailard, Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University
  • Nic Dias, Senior Research Fellow, First Draft News, Shorenstein Center, Harvard University
  • Christina Fink, Professor of Practice of International Affairs and Director of the M.A. Program in International Development Studies, the Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
  • Sharath Srinivasan, Director, Center of Governance and Human Rights, King's College, University of Cambridge
  • Sushma Raman, Executive Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School (moderator)

4:10 – 5:35 p.m. Challenging Disinformation in Conflict-Fragile States Through Digital Technologies

Panelists examine solutions to disinformation-fueled conflict and political violence using the media and ICTs. This panel brings together both academic researchers and practitioners who have implemented projects on the ground in conflict zones.

Panelists

  • Camber Warren, Assistant Professor, Naval Postgraduate School
  • Emile Bruneau, Director, Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab, Annenberg School of Communication
  • Rachel Brown, Director, Over Zero
  • Craig Hammer, Secretary, Development Data Council and Program Manager, Global Media Development, World Bank
  • Babak Bahador, Associate Research Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University (moderator)

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Reception (Invite Only)

7:10 - 8:30 p.m. Keynote Address by James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence

Moderated by David Ensor

April 3, 2018

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Coffee & Light Breakfast

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Contentious Narratives: Russia and Beyond

This is the second of two panels devoted to the presentation of case studies of influence campaigns involving disinformation, trolls, bots, and media and political amplifiers.

Panelists

  • Gregory Asmolov, Russia Institute, King’s College London
  • Samantha Bradshaw, Oxford Internet Institute
  • Natalia Chaban, Professor, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Ben O'Loughlin, Professor, University of London
  • Jessica Ludwig, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Robert Orttung, Associate Research Professor of International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University (moderator)

10:15 - 11:45 a.m. Remedies

This panel considers a range of remedies to address the negative consequences from disinformation and contested narratives identified in the earlier panels.

Panelists

  • Alexa Koenig, Executive Director, Human Rights Center, UC-Berkeley
  • Kathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Scott Edwards, Project Manager for the Science for Human Rights Project, Amnesty International
  • Steven Livingston, Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University (moderator)

11:45 - 12:15 p.m. Closing

Sushma Raman, Executive Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Steven Livingston, Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University

Babak Bahador, Associate Research Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University (moderator)

Sponsored By:

The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs and Elliott School of International Affairs with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and the World Bank.