As part of the Cybersecurity and International Affairs Workshops by the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute and the Balsillie School of International Affairs
Christian Leuprecht, Professor, Royal Military College of Canada
While the first lecture in this series dwelt on the question of whether technologies on the near horizon would grant unprecedented power to enforce authority, this lecture will speak to the fear that digital technologies may be a dangerous force of entropy. Digital communication technologies have dramatically lowered the costs of spreading information, presenting opportunities for malicious actors to spread propaganda and sow discord. The potential persuasive power of digital technologies has been demonstrated by Russia’s recent involvement in the national elections of countries such as the US and the UK, utilising automated messaging “bots” coupled with the infiltration of email accounts and voter roles. While most attention has thus far fixated on Russia, the strategies which the Russians have employed are eminently replicable. This session will consider the level of logistical and technological capacity which is required for an actor to be able to mount influence operations on democratic systems, and what sort of actors can be expected to attempt this in the near future. It will also consider whether hitherto unseen methods of persuasion and manipulation, such as realistic voice impersonation, may become a threat to the democratic process. The discussion will also cover the options available for democratic states to protect themselves from these novel threats. What sort of clear policy can governments adopt regarding influence campaigns, and how may influence campaigns be neutralized without compromising freedom of speech?
Christian Leuprecht holds a PhD from Queen’s University. He is a Class of 1965 Professor in Leadership, Department of Political Science, Royal Military College, on leave as Matthew Flinders Fellow at Flinders University in South Australia. In 2016, he was the sole political scientist to be elected a member of the New College of the Royal Society of Canada; he is also the youngest recipient of RMCC’s Research Excellence Award. Dr. Leuprecht is a recipient of RMC’s Cowan Prize for Excellence in Research and an elected member of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada. He is president of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee 01: Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution, Munk Senior Fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute, and cross-appointed to the Department of Political Studies and the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University where he is also a fellow of the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations and the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy. An expert in security and defence, political demography, and comparative federalism and multilevel governance, he has held visiting positions in North America, Europe, and Australia, and is regularly called as an expert witness to testify before committees of Parliament.
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