Gothenburg research initiative for politically emergent systems (GRIPES)

New technology has given rise to brand new possibilities to tailor messages and direct them to groups where they will have the largest impact. In a research project led by Asad Sayeed, researchers from the University of Gothenburg will be investigating the ways in which artificial intelligence is used to sway public opinion.

Manipulative messages spread easily in social media and may contain loaded signal words that appear neutral, but which will be interpreted with a certain meaning within certain groups, for example in political debate.

These messages are often referred to as dogwhistles, as in the whistles that make a sound which can only be perceived by dogs, i.e. a type of message that is understood differently depending on who is listening.

The project is expected to provide knowledge on dogwhistles as a linguistic and political phenomenon. Even though the existence of dogwhistles is relatively well-known, research on the concept and its political significance is limited. Artificial intelligence may reinforce the effects, both by fine-tuning linguistic messages, and by sorting recipients in a way that amplifies the effect of the messages. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg want to carry out a more in-depth investigation into how and to what extent this happens. In addition, the researchers will study whether it is possible to develop tools to identify and simulate the effects of dogwhistles.

Project members:
Ellen Breitholtz, University of Gothenburg
Robin Cooper, University of Gothenburg
Elina Lindgren, University of Gothenburg
Björn Rönnerstrand, University of Gothenburg

1 January 2020 until 31 December 2024
Principal investigator
Funding
Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation