US Special Operations Command will spend $10 million on developing network of websites to help influence foreign audiences, the Pentagon has said.
Can a series of customised web sites written in specific, strategic foreign languages actually influence how the world perceives our government’s policies? And by-the-way help fight the war on terror? Sounds like a stretch but that is indeed the goal of the project known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative.
General Dynamics Information Technology said it was awarded a $10.1 million contract to start the project the officials hope would quell any anti-US communications out on the web. Specifically the project requires “the capability to posture for rapid, on-order global dissemination of web-based influence products and tools in support of strategic and long-term US Government goals and objectives.”
The project will build a minimum of two and no more than twelve websites focused on Modern Standard Arabic, French, English (British dialect and spelling), Portuguese, Spanish, Armenian, Azeri, Chinese, Farsi, Georgian, Hindi, Punjabi, Russian, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Bahasa (Indonesian and Malay), according to the group supporting the contract, the US Special Operations Command, which is devoted to fighting “unconventional warfare.”
The contract sounds like no picnic. It calls for a “network of native/indigenous content contributors with backgrounds in politics, academics, security, culture, entertainment, and other aspects of the Global War on Terror, which appeal to identified foreign target audiences."
In addition General Dynamics will ensure adherence to all applicable copyright laws, the contract states. Content shall include but is not limited to original features, news, sports, entertainment, economics, politics, cultural reports, business, and similar items of interest to targeted readers.
The government requires that all of the influence websites Web sites be operational and accessible on the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a 99% reliability rate. The contractor must provide the analytical, technical, and consulting support required to execute the concept of operating 24-hours per day, 7 days per week, worldwide and geographically/culturally targeted websites.
General Dynamics will be required to procure, operate and maintain web server platform hardware and software to include redundant systems with satisfactory data backup, security, intrusion detection, and capacity support production, staging, development, analysis, and web activities, the Trans Regional Web Initiative contract states.
Conducting a war of words is a hot topic. In July, BBN got $29.7 million from the Air Force to develop a prototype machine reading system that transforms prose into knowledge that can be interpreted by an artificial intelligence application.
The prototype is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Machine Reading Program (MRP) that wants to develop systems that can capture knowledge from naturally occurring text and transform it into the formal representations used by AI reasoning systems.
The idea is that such an intelligent learning system could gather and analyse information from the web such as international technological advances or plans and rhetoric of political organisations and unleash a wide variety of new military and civilian AI applications from intelligent bots to personal tutors according to DARPA.