Obey: Pentagon research indicates social media can be used to control people like robots

Sunday, July 20, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Douglas Ernst
The Washington Times
Friday, July 18, 2014

Millions of Americans use social media every day, and the Pentagon wants to know how to how the information they see might be used to control their behavior as if they were robots.

The Department of Defense has spent millions of dollars in recent years on research aimed at harnessing the power of social media to direct human behavior on a large scale. The Air Force even published findings on the subject in February titled “Containment Control for a Social Network with State-Dependent Connectivity,” the technology website Ars Technica reported Thursday.

“A less investigated problem is once you’ve identified the network, how do you manipulate it toward an end,” Warren Dixon, director of the University of Florida’s Nonlinear Controls and Robotics research group, told Ars Technica. Mr. Dixon, who holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering, was the principal investigator on an Air Force Research Laboratory-funded project.

In short, researchers found that large populations of social media consumers can likely be controlled by using mathematical principles, Ars Technica reported. Mr. Dixon and his fellow team members believe that a sound mathematical formula would allow an entity like the Department of Defense to influence behavior toward a desired result.

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