WASHINGTON — A high-ranking State Department official has offered a stark warning about the potential of “computational warfare” to destroy the Enlightenment order that has governed Western society for more than two centuries. And he called for an “Enlightenment 2.0,” one that would bring the ideals of the original Enlightenment — reason, civil discourse, humanism — to the digital sphere.
“We don’t need to say that this is the death of the Enlightenment. We need to create Enlightenment 2.0,” said the official, Matt B. Chessen, who serves as acting deputy science and technology adviser to the secretary of state. He has been at the State Department for more than a decade, with postings in Baghdad and Kabul. Chessen is also a science-fiction novelist with vivid ideas about the future of humanity and technology.
His remarks came at a briefing held on Capitol Hill earlier this week by the Helsinki Commission, a bipartisan agency concerned with international security. The briefing was titled “Lies, Bots, and Social Media: What is Computational Propaganda and How Do We Defeat It?”
A running list of all the times Trump has attacked 'fake news' on Twitter
A running list of all the times Trump has attacked 'fake news' on Twitter
**Click through the following slides to see a running list of tweets President Trump has sent regarding 'fake news.'
(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Well, now that collusion with Russia is proving to be a total hoax and the only collusion is with Hillary Clinton a… https://t.co/9hkgQun4vG
The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon - FAKE NEWS! He’s not le… https://t.co/tYYnq58Zmk
So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Gri… https://t.co/6vWDKTgCQG
Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top… https://t.co/xvaYsbO0le
Great, and we should boycott Fake News CNN. Dealing with them is a total waste of time! https://t.co/8zJ3j7g5el
We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrup… https://t.co/3f2NxPueRO
Wow, even I didn’t realize we did so much. Wish the Fake News would report! Thank you. https://t.co/ApVbu2b0Jd
Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our… https://t.co/0QnLU03c03
The rigged Dem Primary, one of the biggest political stories in years, got ZERO coverage on Fake News Network TV last night. Disgraceful!
....earth shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!
The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was "no collusion" and events mentioned took place long before he...
Just read the nice remarks by President Jimmy Carter about me and how badly I am treated by the press (Fake News). Thank you Mr. President!
"Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President." @FoxNews
It is finally sinking through. 46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred.
Keep hearing about "tiny" amount of money spent on Facebook ads. What about the billions of dollars of Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC & CBS?
Stock Market hits another all time high on Friday. 5.3 trillion dollars up since Election. Fake News doesn't spent much time on this!
I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!
The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!
So much Fake News being put in dying magazines and newspapers. Only place worse may be @NBCNews, @CBSNews, @ABC and @CNN. Fiction writers!
Sadly, they and others are Fake News, and the public is just beginning to figure it out! https://t.co/8B8AyA7V1s
The Fake News Is going all out in order to demean and denigrate! Such hatred!
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
It would be really nice if the Fake News Media would report the virtually unprecedented Stock Market growth since the election.Need tax cuts
The Fake News is at it again, this time trying to hurt one of the finest people I know, General John Kelly, by saying he will soon be.....
Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.
Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!
Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!
We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates,...
In analyzing the Alabama Primary race,FAKE NEWS always fails to mention that the candidate I endorsed went up MANY points after endorsement!
Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!
The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R's. Shame!
Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to "get Trump." Not fair to FR or effort!
Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?
The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media "screaming" for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate!
Fascinating to watch people writing books and major articles about me and yet they know nothing about me & have zero access. #FAKE NEWS!
General John Kelly is doing a fantastic job as Chief of Staff. There is tremendous spirit and talent in the W.H. Don't believe the Fake News
The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally.....
Last night in Phoenix I read the things from my statements on Charlottesville that the Fake News Media didn't cover fairly. People got it!
Thank you, the very dishonest Fake News Media is out of control! https://t.co/8J7y900VGK
Jerry Falwell of Liberty University was fantastic on @foxandfriends. The Fake News should listen to what he had to say. Thanks Jerry!
Heading back to Washington after working hard and watching some of the worst and most dishonest Fake News reporting I have ever seen!
Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews...maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!
The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is. They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!
Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!
After 200 days, rarely has any Administration achieved what we have achieved..not even close! Don't believe the Fake News Suppression Polls!
Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!
...and West Virginia. The fact is the Fake News Russian collusion story, record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs.....
The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling). Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio.......
The Fake News refuses to report the success of the first 6 months: S.C., surging economy & jobs,border & military security,ISIS & MS-13 etc.
I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen. But Fake News said I called it a dump - TOTALLY UNTRUE
Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!
I love reading about all of the "geniuses" who were so instrumental in my election success. Problem is, most don't exist. #Fake News! MAGA
...about then candidate Trump." Catherine Herridge @FoxNews. So why doesn't Fake News report this? Witch Hunt! Purposely phony reporting.
Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?
So many stories about me in the @washingtonpost are Fake News. They are as bad as ratings challenged @CNN. Lobbyist for Amazon and taxes?
Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer - it's actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!
While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS
Sean Spicer is a wonderful person who took tremendous abuse from the Fake News Media - but his future is bright!
The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!
Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!
With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!
HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?
If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother,as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!
...have it. Fake News said 17 intel agencies when actually 4 (had to apologize). Why did Obama do NOTHING when he had info before election?
I will represent our country well and fight for its interests! Fake News Media will never cover me accurately but who cares! We will #MAGA!
Dow hit a new intraday all-time high! I wonder whether or not the Fake News Media will so report?
At some point the Fake News will be forced to discuss our great jobs numbers, strong economy, success with ISIS, the border & so much else!
Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show
The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!
Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.
The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don't even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke!
So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!
Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!
Wow, CNN had to retract big story on "Russia," with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!
Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0
The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media - over 100 million people! I can go around them
Fake News is at an all time high. Where is their apology to me for all of the incorrect stories???
The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!
Sorry folks, but if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH
Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.
The Fake News Media works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don't want America to hear the real story!
Does anyone notice how the Montana Congressional race was such a big deal to Dems & Fake News until the Republican won? V was poorly covered
....it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!
Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names....
The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false - Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time - had nothing to do with my decision.
General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration - but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.
Why is it that the Fake News rarely reports Ocare is on its last legs and that insurance companies are fleeing for their lives? It's dead!
Wow,the Fake News media did everything in its power to make the Republican Healthcare victory look as bad as possible.Far better than Ocare!
The Fake News media is officially out of control. They will do or say anything in order to get attention - never been a time like this!
The two fake news polls released yesterday, ABC & NBC, while containing some very positive info, were totally wrong in General E. Watch!
Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!
It is the same Fake News Media that said there is "no path to victory for Trump" that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!
Why doesn't Fake News talk about Podesta ties to Russia as covered by @FoxNews or money from Russia to Clinton - sale of Uranium?
Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!
Just heard Fake News CNN is doing polls again despite the fact that their election polls were a WAY OFF disaster. Much higher ratings at Fox
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, "went to his mailbox" and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!
Don't let the FAKE NEWS tell you that there is big infighting in the Trump Admin. We are getting along great, and getting major things done!
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn't tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!
Give the public a break - The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!
Don't believe the main stream (fake news) media.The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.
The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story - RUSSIA. Fake news!
FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and "sources," is far more effective than the discredited Democrats - but they are fading fast!
The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!
Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!
While on FAKE NEWS @CNN, Bernie Sanders was cut off for using the term fake news to describe the network. They said technical difficulties!
The failing @nytimes does major FAKE NEWS China story saying "Mr.Xi has not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov.14." We spoke at length yesterday!
Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave "service" in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!
'16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won' https://t.co/0dHld5kiVc
I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!
Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.
After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!
Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!
Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!
The failing @nytimes has been wrong about me from the very beginning. Said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. FAKE NEWS!
Congratulations to @FoxNews for being number one in inauguration ratings. They were many times higher than FAKE NEWS @CNN - public is smart!
to the U.S., but had nothing to do with TRUMP, is more FAKE NEWS. Ask top CEO's of those companies for real facts. Came back because of me!
much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?
Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans - FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably...
.@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!
We had a great News Conference at Trump Tower today. A couple of FAKE NEWS organizations were there but the people truly get what's going on
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
I win an election easily, a great "movement" is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!
FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS!
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Chessen said that “the possibility of a post-truth world actually directly undermines the Enlightenment ideals of a search for truth and reason.” The advent of such a world, in which intentionally misleading news stories jostle with truth, would benefit adversaries of the United States, Chessen said. “They want to see this post-truth world. Because in that world, a fact is whatever you can convince people of.”
It was not immediately clear whether Chessen’s remarks suggested a renewed commitment from Foggy Bottom to countering concerted disinformation campaigns from domestic extremists and foreign U.S. adversaries such as Russia and China. Chessen did not respond to requests to clarify his remarks, but a spokesperson for the State Department said that “the Department is broadly concerned about threats to democracy, including threats posed by state-sponsored disinformation and manipulative information operations designed to undermine democratic processes and institutions.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas who supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, has not evinced much anxiety about disinformation. As director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has sometimes downplayed the extent to which Russian information warfare played a role in the 2016 election.
Trump has discounted that possibility outright. And he has at times appeared to advocate for a post-truth world of the very kind Chessen warned against. In July, he told a gathering of veterans that “what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening. Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” Although the president’s invocation of “fake news” refers to news reports about his administration he believes to be inaccurate or unduly critical, the way he has framed his complaints about the news media, and the intensity of those complaints, has worried the keepers of democratic institutions. The president also has endorsed conspiracy theories about the Clintons and liberal financier George Soros. These tend to bubble up from the computational warfare swamp.
Trump’s personal attorney, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, offered what may well become the motto of the post-truth world: “Truth isn’t truth,” he said during an August appearance on “Meet the Press.”
Recent months have made clear that technology giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter have enabled the dissemination of purposefully deceptive news, frequently serving as unwitting participants in the information war waged on the Western establishment.
But in a response to a question from Yahoo News, Chessen said it was too soon to hold hearings similar to those that brought the nation’s top cigarette executives to Capitol Hill in 1994. Their deceptions ultimately lead to the unraveling of Big Tobacco. Chessen, who once worked for the technology company Razorfish, said that companies like Facebook and Twitter lack the “malicious” intent of nicotine purveyors.
Chessen did suggest that the federal government may need to create a “new institution” that would treat social media companies like a public utility with a “civic function.” He also expressed some admiration for Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation, which gives Internet users more control over their data. California has a similar law, but Silicon Valley has resisted a push for greater regulation.
Calling for a “national conversation” on technology issues, Chessen said that “maybe Congress needs to convene a commission on data privacy, information security and disinformation.”
In addition to serving as a career diplomat, Chessen is the author of science fiction novel, “Broad Horizons,” described on Amazon as “a satirical, futuristic, cyberpunk novel,” one that “combines self-replicating nanites with temporal acceleration to create a nanotechnology intelligence, with devastating effect.”
On his website, Chessen also writes about the future of technology. In one article, he predicts that artificial intelligence “will facilitate the creation of artificial realities — custom virtual universes — that are so indistinguishable from reality, most human beings will choose to spend their lives in these virtual worlds rather than in the real world. People won’t breed. Humanity will die off.”
Chessen’s fellow panelists agreed that the notion of an unregulated Internet was coming to an end. “There was this idea that this technology itself was pro-democratic,” said Karen Kornbluh, who served as an economic development official in the Obama administration.
Nina Jankowicz, an expert on Russian information warfare at the Wilson Center, seconded that sentiment. “Social media self-regulation,” she said, “has been a failure.”