NPR correspondent Shannon Bond, who covers the online and offline circulation of misleading narratives and false claims, interviewed CSET Research Fellow Josh Goldstein for a story on the increasing ease and frequency with which generative AI is used to create deepfake videos. “Language models are a natural tool for propagandists,” Goldstein noted, adding that using these tools, bad actors can create a lot of original text quickly and at little cost. Further, he said, “You can generate persuasive propaganda, even if you’re not entirely fluent in English, or even if you don’t know the idioms of your target community.” Goldstein, Research Analyst Micah Musser and CSET alumna Katerina Sedova — together with co-authors at OpenAI and the Stanford Internet Observatory — published a scholarly report earlier this year on how large language models could be misused to deploy digital propaganda for influence operations.
Goldstein was also quoted in a Wired investigation into state-backed hacking groups from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran using bogus LinkedIn profiles to gather intel on their targets, steal information, and worse. Authors Jennifer Conrad and Matt Burgess highlighted LinkedIn’s ongoing battle against this “inauthentic behavior.” On the journalists’ request, Goldstein analyzed profiles that had been masquerading as Wired staff and were listed on the company’s LinkedIn page until Wired got wind of it and had them taken down. He pointed out that such fakery is not unheard-of: “We have seen propagandists pretend to be journalists to gain credibility with their target audiences.”
The Wall Street Journal
The American Enterprise Institute’s Adam J. White penned a Wall Street Journal opinion article on the newly-formed House select committee on China that cited two CSET reports: No Permits, No Fabs by Nonresident Research Fellow John VerWey and Sustaining and Growing the U.S. Semiconductor Advantage: A Primer by Policy Communications Specialist Owen J. Daniels and Research Fellow Will Hunt. As White put it, the former report “showed that the construction of new chip fabrication plants is governed by myriad intersecting federal and state environmental regulatory frameworks, whose uncertain timelines and requirements present major roadblocks,” while the latter explained that regulatory modernization is a “first step” toward semiconductor competitiveness. The recommendation from Daniels and Hunt: “Efforts should include finding and eliminating redundancies between state and federal permitting regulations for high-tech facilities by streamlining environmental, health, and safety regulations.”
Daniels coauthored an article for Foreign Affairs with Assistant Director of Analysis and Research Fellow Margarita Konaev on the value of adaptability — technical and tactical — in Ukraine’s struggle against the Russian invasion. Among their observations: ”Over and over, Ukraine has nimbly responded to changing battlefield dynamics and exploited emerging technologies to capitalize on Russia’s mistakes. … Such is their record of technical and tactical versatility that Ukrainian forces continue to enjoy a sense of momentum, despite the fact that the frontlines have been largely frozen for months. By contrast, Russian forces have shown limited openness to new tactics or new technologies. … But as the frontlines have become increasingly hardened, it is also important to take into account the limits of adaptation. … The Ukrainian military’s skill at integrating advanced weapons and new technologies has continually surprised not only its adversary, but also Ukraine’s own partners and allies in the West. Yet new technology and weapons, no matter how sophisticated, are unlikely to prove decisive. In fact, it is difficult to say whether there can be a decisive end to a war like this—a prospect that seems unlikely for the near future.”
CSET Director of Biotechnology Programs and Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi provided insights into China’s illicit efforts to acquire genetic data from the United States in Politico’s Morning Cybersecurity. In an item by reporter John Sakellariadis, Puglisi pointed out that such data will serve a wide variety of interests, from health care to agriculture. “It’s enablers like sequencing and other tools of discovery that are going to drive the bioeconomy, that are going to drive precision medicine,” she said. “The more data you have, the more you can start to understand what genes do.”
Previewing a high-profile congressional hearing on TikTok’s potential threat to U.S. national security as well as privacy rights, Emmy-winning consumer investigative producer Nicole Keller had a story on CBS Mornings that included Puglisi’s view on the platform’s potential for illicit tech transfer to China. For most of her career, Puglisi has studied China’s science and technology development and innovation ecosystem, including its efforts to acquire technology and technological know-how, and how these efforts have changed over time. In testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission last month, she addressed the assumptions that are often made about innovation in China, the policies and programs it has put in place to enhance its national innovation base, and the implications of these policies for the U.S.-China strategic competition.
Toronto-based CBC Senior Reporter Mark Gollom published an article featuring Puglisi’s insights that delved into China’s alleged interference in the political processes of other countries, including Canada, and how it tries to influence them politically. Gollom also highlighted the United Front Work Department’s role in the process and recent examples of China’s alleged election meddling in other countries. Puglisi explained that the UFWD is essentially “the propaganda arm; they interface with overseas advocacy groups [and] work with the diaspora worldwide,” adding that “their main goal is for the world to see China in a good light, that China controls the message.”
Rishi Iyengar, whose beat is the intersection of geopolitics and technology, turned to Research Fellow Emily Weinstein for a Foreign Policy analysis about the problem with describing AI competition as a “race.” He wrote, “The heavy focus on research in evaluating a country’s position in the AI landscape—a metric that increasingly favors China—also often misses key context, said Emily Weinstein, a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. ‘You can write as many papers as you want; that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able to commercialize that specific technology.’ ”
Roll Call, The Wire China and Science
Weinstein’s recently-published policy brief with Research Analyst Ngor Luong, U.S. Outbound Investment into Chinese AI Companies, was cited in a Roll Call article by Gopal Ratnam. The article discusses the Treasury Department’s report to Congress, which outlines the costs of setting up a program to monitor U.S. outbound investment in sensitive technology that raises national security concerns. Ratnam’s piece quotes Weinstein and Luong about the accuracy and clarity of data on U.S. investors and China. Eliot Chen also cited their brief — which identifies the main U.S. investors active in the Chinese artificial intelligence market and the set of AI companies in China that have benefitted from U.S. capital — in a piece in The Wire China on the state of private market investment in China, particularly by American venture capital and private equity firms. Weinstein also weighed in on China’s reorganization of some of its key science and technology bureaus in a Dennis Normile piece on the topic.
South China Morning Post and University World News
Research Analysts Dahlia Peterson and Hanna Dohmen were featured in a South China Morning Post article by Coco Feng. It discusses China’s challenges in developing its own ChatGPT equivalent; Peterson theorized that government censorship could hinder these efforts, while Dohmen highlighted that restrictions and regulations could stymie further innovation. Dohmen expounded on this topic in a University World News piece by Yojana Sharma that described how the emergence of ChatGPT has disrupted China’s goal of becoming a global leader in AI innovation. “We’ve observed numerous Chinese companies joining the trend and announcing the development or integration of similar ChatGPT-like tools into their search engines,” Dohmen said. “Some of this is due to the current hype, which will likely cool down soon.”
Voice of America
Writing for VOA, journalist Lin Feng quoted Data Research Analyst Jacob Feldgoise on China’s plan to reorganize its Ministry of Science and Technology in response to U.S.-led efforts to limit China’s access to advanced technologies, particularly those with potential military applications. Feldgoise observed, “The Chinese government hopes that by funding basic scientific research into chokepoint technologies, they can spur Chinese scientists to discoveries that make foreign chokepoints obsolete.”
The National Interest
Eric Mandel and Sarit Zehavi contributed an article to The National Interest citing a previously-published Wall Street Journal piece that featured Lead Analyst William Hannas. The latest article delves into the crucial role of open-source intelligence (OSINT) in modern intelligence gathering, which is essential both to national security and diplomacy. According to Hannas’ research, China places great importance on OSINT and has deployed an estimated 100,000 analysts to scour the globe for scientific and technical developments, with a particular focus on the United States.
In a GovInfoSecurity story by Executive Editor Mathew J. Schwartz, Nonresident Research Fellow Chris Rohlf discussed the new U.S. government national cybersecurity strategy. The strategy categorizes ransomware as a risk not only to public safety and economic stability, but also to national security. According to Rohlf, “Changing the economics is how we beat ransomware, not throwing ‘cyber operators’ at the problem.”
Spotlight on CSET Experts: Anna Puglisi
Anna Puglisi is CSET’s Director of Biotechnology Programs and a Senior Fellow. She has previously served as the National Counterintelligence Officer for East Asia and played a prominent role in drafting the U.S. National Counterintelligence Strategy.
Her latest reports include Mapping Biosafety Level-3 Laboratories by Publications and China’s Industrial Clusters: Building AI-Driven Bio-Discovery Capacity. She has been featured and quoted on her expertise in counterintelligence and China in a variety of outlets, including Reuters, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.
Interested in speaking with Anna or our other experts? Contact the Director of External Affairs Lynne Weil at Lynne.Weil@georgetown.edu.