In recent communications, Herbert Lin and Jackie Kerr have proposed and discussed the concept of cyber-enabled information/influence warfare and manipulation (also IIWAM). They define IIWAM as “the deliberate use of information against an adversary to confuse, mislead and sometimes influence the choices and decisions the adversary makes”, and explain how cyber-enabled IIWAM exploits modern communication technologies, the information environment and our cognitive and emotional responses to its advantages.Information manipulation is not a new phenomenon. It has been studied extensively, in particular, in relation to the production of deceptive messages and the use of deceptive communication strategies for personal, ideological, political and commercial purposes. Although communication is founded on the presumption of ‘truth’, and, interactions are based on assumptions people make about the quantity, quality, manner and relevance of the content communicated to them, it is not unusual for communicators to alter (e.g., overstate, minimise), misrepresent, conceal or fabricate information and facts. What distinguishes IIWAM from traditional ‘propaganda’ and deception techniques is the scale at which it has been deployed, the targets it seeks to influence and the impact it had on the information environment in recent years. The development of computational approaches and tools to detect and deflect IIWAM operations is needed.We are seeking submissions related, but not limited to:
1. The automatic detection of deceptive messages (including fake news). Approaches based on the Cooperative Principle have been proposed offering a typology of verbal deceptions. These approaches focus on the message itself (i.e., what is said)
2. The systematic identification and characterisation of deceptive communication strategies and what motivates them (e.g., inject fear, promote anger, divide communities, swing opinions). Approaches have focused on the speaker’s intention and the means used (i.e., assumptions, beliefs and goals) to pursue deceptive communication behaviours.
3. The development of techniques and approaches to information manipulation and deceptive behaviour attribution Modern means of communication makes it difficult to trace deceptive behaviour back to their originators. People can produce information content, adopt stances and express feelings indirectly or anonymously. Whereas originators and authors can sometimes be clearly identified, attribution can be obfuscated or purposefully misleading.
4. The identification of direct and indirect targets of IIWAM as well as the means used to reach the targeted audience (i.e., physical, informational and psychological). William Biddle in his psychological analysis of propaganda was one of the first to emphasise how emotions could drive individuals to follow particular behaviour.
5. The development of techniques and approaches to countering IIWAM by preventing, detecting and responding to deception and confusion methods.
Proposals will need to clearly articulate the framework adopted, the data analysed and used to validate the approaches and models.
This opportunity is open to all registered Australian Universities and Australian Publicly Funded Research Agencies.
- Successful applicants must be able to meet the milestones and timelines outlined in their submission.
- Successful applicants must enter into a Data61 University Collaboration Agreement.
- Successful applicants will enter into the appropriate contracting arrangement within 3 weeks of announcement.
Terms and Conditions
Proposals submitted will be assessed equally on the following criteria:
- Alignment to Defence strategy and the project priorities articulated in this document
- Future science criticality
- Collaboration depth (e.g. Collaboration with DST staff, Data61 staff, other universities, an industry partner, etc.)
- Delivery of outcomes (e.g. the ability of the proposal to deliver the agreed outcomes and milestones).
- Game changing potential to Defence
Please limit submissions to no more than 2000 words. Ensure that all contact details, current and potential DST, Data61 collaborators and/or research partner details are on a separate page/covering sheet. The proposals will be de-identified during the selection process to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest.
Defence and Data61 reserves the right to fund all, some or none of the proposals received under this Call for Applications.
Contracts and Intellectual Property
Successful applicants will be required to enter into a Data61 University Collaboration Agreement and a subsidiary Collaborative Research Project Agreement with Data61 in order to access project funding. Data61 will enter into contracts with the lead party in each proposal.
Any IP generated as part of the projects will vest in Data61 unless otherwise agreed, and Defence will receive a license for Commonwealth purposes only.
Any Commonwealth funding contributed to the projects will be paid in accordance with successful completion of milestones and as negotiated by the parties. Where circumstances necessitate it is possible for a small payment to be made upon execution of the agreement and in accordance with Defence procurement rules.
How to Apply
Please submit via the DST portal.
Proposals are to be submitted by 4.30pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), 15 August 2018. Only projects submitted via email to Cyber-NGTF@dst.defence.gov.au by the above deadline will be considered in this round.
For further information or assistance, please contact: