My 2012 novel Love Byte foretold our brave new world of fake news and fraudulent social media messages. In the opening pages, we overhear:
“Good evening, Dr. Renwick. This is Dr. Erwin Krakouer, the National Security Advisor. We met at a security conference in Washington.”
“Good evening. Everyone calls me ‘Tom.’”
“Tom, let me get right to the point. Do you recall the Arab Spring and the riots in Cairo?”
“Did you notice that the revolutionaries used Facebook and Twitter to organize and inflame the riots? And undoubtedly you followed the more sophisticated uses of the social media employed in England, Russia and the Occupy Wall Street movement right here in America?”
“Yes, but I didn’t think that much about it at the time.”
“Well, let’s add some new technology. Now that we have an AI supercomputer that can think, talk, and listen like a human, couldn’t we program it to promote and guide riots and revolutions in target countries? Couldn’t we set up websites, email identities, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts so that the computer could send out thousands of messages to the waiting multitudes as if the computer were dozens of revolutionary leaders—or in other cases, top government leaders? Could it read and listen to the replies and media responses, and then could it send out more social media blasts tuned to changes and new developments?”
“Absolutely. We have the capability right here,” Tom replied.
“And if the nation found itself in a cyber war, could Juno be programmed to screw up all the enemy computers?”
“Yes, it could be done,” Tom answered slowly, “but I would need to connect Juno to one of the big computers that already have cyber warfare programming. The good news is that these computers are right here at the labs in our Cyber Warfare Group.”
The book goes on to explore the implications of this media-modifying technology through the persona of Juno, a frighteningly intelligent supercomputer who is involved at every step. Whole political empires are upset in the United States and abroad. Love Byte is available from Amazon as an ebook and paper book.
Larry Kilham is a Sloan School of Management graduate from MIT, received three patents, and has founded two high-tech companies. Many of his product designs required innovative use of computers, and as early as the 1960s he was researching artificial intelligence (AI).