Category Archives: DARPA

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Scientists Track Reddit Crypto Threads to Understand Disinformation

Scientists Track Reddit Crypto Threads to Understand Disinformation

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have published a fresh study that looks at the frequency of Reddit crypto discussions to try and see if online chatter can help predict market behavior as well as to understand the spread of disinformation online.

PNNL data scientist Svitlana Volkova said that crypto was a “very good proxy program for disinformation” in her presentation at the recent San Francisco Web Conference 2019. She claims that the ebb and flow of mentions on Reddit about crypto have close correlations with scandals associated with disinformation campaigns, such as the 2016 US presidential campaign’s Russian disinformation scandal. Experts now believe the same evidence is emerging for similar campaigns for the 2020 presidential election.

But becauseperpetrators of disinformation are camouflaged in the crowd, it can be difficult to track them, especially on broader topics like presidential politics. However, PNNL researchers think they’ve cracked the code with Reddit threads focused on cryptos like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Monero.

Volkova and her co-authors Emily Saldanha and Maria Glenski analyzed “tens of thousands of Reddit comments made on the forums” for these three digital assets in a four-year period from 2015 to 2018. They measured how quickly threads became viral, how much volume they generated, how many Redditors participated and the extent of their engagement.

They found that Bitcoin generated the most activity, creating 3,600 daily comments, compared with only 500 for Ethereum and 380 for Monero. Bitcoin also generated responses twice as quickly as the other two. The lifetime of discussions, however, was the longest on Ethereum, although Monero had the longest median ones and were five times likelier to attract follow-up responses than the other two.

Data suggested that Ethereum discussions lasted longer because they were about blockchain development as well as crypto, while Monero was very attractive due to it being preferred over Bitcoin because of privacy features. Volkova explained:

“These social signals are quite useful, and by incorporating them with machine and deep learning, we intend to build predictive models that hit on causal relationships between different variables so we can explain model decision-making processes.”

After extracting social signals, they were able to link their metrics to “predict it [Bitcoin prices] with very decent accuracy”, claims Volkova, who says the models will now be incorporated into studies on disinformation spread and the types of social media actors most likely to be responsible.

It is part of a cyber initiative funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to prevent disinformation:

“Mitigation is harder. We have the models right now that can detect disinformation and can say, ‘OK, look, this is not true, this is false or misleading.’ We can make the audience aware of the way disinformation spreads. But then we have to somehow coordinate with the social platform providers to actually make a difference.”

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Seoul Examines Military Implications of Blockchain

Seoul Examines Military Implications of Blockchain

The South Korean government has announced it is to launch a pilot which will examine the possibility of integrating blockchain solutions into the country’s defense industry.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is planning a USD 530,000 spend for each of the proposed projects aimed at encouraging both small and large defense companies to tender plans.

British news outlet Jane’s Information Group, a British publishing company specializing in military, aerospace and transportation topics, has commented that the project proposals are in line with South Korea’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) plans. This includes the Defense Industry Development Plan which has targeted emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous systems and big data analytics.

South Korea’s latest move follows those by other nations, notably the US and Russia, to develop their defense strategies by including blockchain solutions in a number of areas, primarily in communications.

Recently the US agency responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), sent out a request for information (RFI) on aspects of permissionless distributed consensus protocols.

DARPA is clearly keen to utilize blockchain in a defense strategy; this renewed interest in blockchain technology marks a return to new communications tech, as two years ago DARPA was reported as working on a blockchain based communications platform resilient to cyber-attacks, with self-destruct messaging.

Earlier this year, the US overseas military personnel announced a voting system via a blockchain mobile app so that servicemen could vote in midterm elections. In total, 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform called Voatz.

 

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US Defense Agency to Examine Permissionless Blockchains to Bypass Bitcoin

The US agency responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military wants to get a better understanding of permissionless blockchains

A “permissionless blockchain” means that anyone can join the network, participate in the process of block verification to create consensus and also create smart contracts. A good example of permissionless blockchain is the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, where any user can join the network and start mining.

A permissioned blockchain restricts the actors who can contribute to the consensus of the system state. In a permissioned blockchain, only a restricted set of users have the rights to validate the block transactions. A permissioned blockchain may also restrict access to approved actors who can create smart contracts.

Clearly, Bitcoin has not found favor with the military, as DARPA is looking for alternative methods where monetary incentives, those normally acquired through mining, are bypassed. Permissionless distributed protocols such as Bitcoin, compensate miners with coins as they add blocks and shore up the network.

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has sent out a request for information (RFI) on those aspects of permissionless distributed consensus protocols which as yet have not been adequately explored, such as how these blockchains function without monetary incentives. DARPA has stated future programmes rely on responses to the RFI:

“For the purpose of this RFI, DARPA is solely interested in permissionless distributed consensus protocols … While there is a substantial amount of publically and privately supported research and development in distributed consensus protocols, DARPA seeks information alongside several, less-explored avenues of permissionless distributed consensus protocols. Such information could help inform a future DARPA program.”

DARPA is clearly keen to utilize blockchain in a defence strategy; this renewed interest in blockchain technology marks a return to new communications tech, as two years ago DARPA was reported as working on a blockchain based communications platform resilient to cyber-attacks, with self-destruct messaging.

Earlier this year, the US overseas military personnel announced a voting system via a blockchain mobile app so that servicemen could vote in midterm elections. 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform called Voatz.

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