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This week in open-source intelligence (OSINT) news, Bellingcat tests the reliability of AI chatbots for geolocation when no EXIF data is present. Across the pond, the EU grapples with the national security concerns of nuclear and how OSINT could inform their efforts. In the U.S. intelligence community (IC), agents suggest the dispersed discipline of OSINT across agencies is barely “scratching the surface” of their capabilities.
This is the OSINT news of the week:
Is AI reliable for geolocation?
Bellingcat details their research of using AI for geolocation in a new article, detailing the shortcomings of relying on chatbots, such as Bard and Bing, for image analysis. In an experiment that included varying tests of different photos, the chatbots were prone to “hallucinations” or making up information that wasn’t present. These machine-learning algorithms' attempts to fill in missing information create unreliable results. The programs also needed repeated prompting to recognize landmarks and other identifying information in the images.
In one example, Bing AI was informed the photo did not come with EXIF data, but the results later detailed metadata (such as camera model and geocoordinates) that were not present. Due to this inability to verify the source of the chatbot’s information and the need for extensive verification, the article concludes using AI for geolocation at this stage of its development is not advisable for researchers.
“They also suggest that the AI chatbots we tested imitate the methods of human open-source researchers. This could be partially responsible for their poor performance.”— Dennis Kovtun, Bellingcat
OSINT for nuclear security?
Energy supplies are becoming a national security concern for many nations. Electricity demands are rising rapidly, and some supplies are being weaponized. These conditions create heightened security risks for nuclear supplies. Nuclear energy has become the subject of dis- and misinformation campaigns, many of which seek to erode public trust in nuclear energy.
By creating an institutional framework for open-source-informed security, Nicholas Moulios argues the EU could use digital analysis to decrease operational planning and preserve evidence. He proposes creating an independent Nuclear Intelligence Cell within the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre.
“The development of a dedicated monitoring mechanism based on Open Source Intelligence, and with the support of the existing EU Nuclear Security capacity, may assist in the detection and analysis of nuclear disinformation incidents, as well as physical incidents.”— Nicholas Moulius, European Leadership Network
“Scratching the surface” on OSINT
Standardizing the role and framework of OSINT across U.S. government agencies is still a goal for many in the IC. Brad Ahlskog, the chief of the Open-Source Intelligence Integration Center at the Defense Intelligence Agency, suggests pockets of expertise across the intelligence community, industry and academia need to be tied together to create a standard tradecraft. Standardizing OSINT efforts has been a goal for officials, but continue to face an uphill battle with the IC.
The “culture of secrecy” is just one of the many hurdles to promoting the collection and dissemination of unclassified intelligence. Another challenge is that classified machines are often unconnected to internet networks, and therefore switching between collection methods can create arduous workflows.
“One of the major challenges continues to be a bias for using intelligence gleaned from highly classified sources, rather than information that’s open available on the internet or elsewhere.”— Justin Doubleday, Federal News Network
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