Blake Dowling: Buckle up America — drinking from the firehose of falsehoods

Fire hose
Left and right squabbling needs a backseat to America first as we approach 2024.

In 2016, there was disruption and interference with our elections at an unprecedented level.

One of the main culprits was the Russian company Internet Research Agency.

In the years that followed its discovery, it was uncovered how devious their plans were and what they were, in fact, up to. In the short version, 100-plus professionals were engaged in full-time social and digital disruption all over the internet to suppress voters, turn Americans against one another, and create general confusion around our elections.

For the extended version, dive in here.

The main takeaway from the 2018 DOJ link (for me) is the goal of the IRA: “The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States,” with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust toward the candidates and the political system in general.”

To accomplish this, each professional on the IRA team was responsible for creating and managing multiple fake social media accounts to achieve those goals. Plus, they not just created accounts but made comments across the internet that are divisive on other person’s and organizations’ accounts. Each team member had different platforms to manage, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the Russian social network VK.

The Internet Research Agency was owned by a St. Petersburg businessman named Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Sound familiar? That would be the same man who led a supposed coup in Russia.

Prigozhin is now more widely known as the head of the Wagner Mercenary Group. Is he really in Belarus? Was the “coup” all smoke and mirrors?

Who knows? But whoever takes over the IRA (or whatever its name is now, as they change it often) while Yevgeny is MIA will have a much easier job in front of them. They will no longer need a data center full of tech professionals wreaking havoc online. All they need is artificial intelligence to bring about a hurricane of disinformation or, as the Russian propagandists call it, a firehose of falsehoods during next year’s election cycle.

Imagine posts simultaneously online describing riots and protests at polling locations in every city in America from bogus accounts nationwide. AI could create fake havoc much faster than 1,000 or even 10,000 humans could and respond to comments.

Legislation and law enforcement are in overdrive, preparing for the coming storm. Still, it will take a nation of calm to help them with that mission.

That is something, unfortunately, in short supply in our country. We are quick to raise the alarm and spread disinformation instead of squashing it. We must look hard in the digital mirror and realize we are all, foremost, Americans.

Left and right squabbling needs a backseat to a focus on America as we approach 2024.

I spoke with WCTV’s Cody Butler to discuss artificial intelligence in our elections, and one thing is for sure, it will be a bumpy ride. Yes, there are positives in the political process to be had from artificial intelligence. The Miami Mayor is making a splash with his bot designed to answer questions from his constituents online.

There will be other positives, but we must strap on the digital seat belt as a nation. I believe the positives outweigh the negatives with AI but 2024 and our elections are a big target.

In the segment, I said, “We’re going to see that type of interference on steroids in 2024 (more so than in 2016). We’re going to see phishing attacks, texts, phone calls, fake social media posts.”

To hammer that point home — think about how many communications you get about candidates and issues? Bad actors (China, Russia, Yevgeny, Iran, North Korea, Tim Robbins — sorry) will be using AI to destroy our democracy and launching 100 times if not more than we see now.

The majority of it will be fake news.

It sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not; they want us to riot, argue online, fight, protest and point fingers at each other.

Our enemies have been engaged in a slow game of ideological conversion of epic proportions for a long time. I wish this did not sound like conspiracy theory jargon, but the writing is on the wall, and it is the hand we have been dealt. Read the Department of Justice charges against the IRA to review their goals if you are in doubt.

The DOJ calls those past efforts against us by the IRA information warfare and spreading distrust of our political system.

This tracks along the overall goal of ideological subversion the KBG (Vladimir Putin was a KGB agent, after all) allegedly started decades ago. That process started with “Demoralization” and “Destabilization” (turning Americans against one another) and has a final stage that is called “Crisis.”

While these plans should have ended with the Cold War and the KGB (now called FSB), the war is no longer cold. We are backing Russia’s enemy in a bloody war with arms and funds, and they will throw everything they have at us digitally to retaliate. While Russia was floundering for years, AI and social media could help them get back on track with their mission against the West, and what better place to do it than the election?

The battlefields of faraway will be coming to our doors en masse in the not-too-distant future. These battles in 2024 will be waged in virtual trenches on our computers. We are all soldiers in this digital war; combating our enemies on two fronts will take a colossal effort. First, they turn our communication tools (email, social platforms, texts, phone, etc.) into a threat delivery system at a rate that has never been seen in the history of our democracy.

Then they try to turn Americans on each other.

Buckle up, America.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies; he can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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