House Weaponization Committee: National Science Foundation is Funding AI-Powered Censorship and Propaganda Tools

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) under Joe Biden has poured millions of dollars into artificial intelligence (AI)-powered censorship and propaganda tools to enable the suppression of online speech “at scale,” and has attempted to hide its censorship efforts from the media, according to a new report issued by the House Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Tuesday.

The report,  titled, “The Weaponization of the National Science Foundation: How NSF is Funding the Development of Automated Tools to Censor Online Speech ‘At Scale’ and Trying to Cover Up its Actions,” details how the NSF issued multi-million-dollar grants to university and non-profit research teams, ostensibly to combat alleged misinformation regarding COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

“The purpose of these taxpayer-funded projects is to develop AI-powered censorship and propaganda tools that can be used by governments and Big Tech to shape public opinion by restricting certain viewpoints or promoting others,” the Judiciary Committee said in a press release.

Non-public documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government demonstrate that these federal bureaucrats, “disinformation” researchers, and non-profit groups understood that their actions—”content moderation” and combatting so-called misinformation—amounted to “censorship.” And yet, NSF forged ahead, supporting new technologies that would essentially enable the censorship of online speech “at scale.”

The Weaponization Committee said the NSF’s response to its requests for documents has thus far been “woefully inadequate.”

Therefore, the Committee announced Tuesday afternoon that Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has subpoenaed the NSF for its communications with private companies and nonprofit groups.

Lee Fang, an investigative journalist who has done extensive reporting on surveillance and censorship issues, presented his work to the Weaponization committee during its hearing Tuesday “examining the threat to the First Amendment posed by artificial intelligence and the federal government.”

According to Fang, a British artificial intelligence firm called “Logically” has expanded into the U.S. market and “is competing for contracts to monitor and remove alleged social media misinformation in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.”

Lee detailed the British AI firm’s censorship activities in Great Britain during the COVID pandemic, and said the American public should be aware that the same tactics are now being deployed against them.

The United Kingdom government awarded Logically multi-million dollar contracts to combat misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. The company instead surveilled activists and academics who expressed legitimate forms of speech, including thoughtful concerns about pandemic lockdowns and vaccine passports, according to a recent watchdog report on the firm’s activities.

Logically previously boasted of a special partnership with Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to automatically suppress and label content they deemed as misinformation, giving the company immense influence over content moderation decisions. It is another case of the government outsourcing censorship to a private entity with a record of targeting lawful speech around hotly contested political issues.

The Committee and the Select Subcommittee obtained, through document requests and subpoenas, internal emails and other documents that “reveal a years-long, intentional effort by NSF to hide its role in funding these censorship and propaganda tools from media and political scrutiny,” according to the report.

After investigative  journalists and legal experts started reporting on their misinformation projects, the NSF allegedly strategized ways to obfuscate their activities, and even developed a media strategy to blacklist their media outlets.

Katelynn Richardson, the Daily Caller’s Supreme Court Reporter, testified at the hearing about these efforts.

“After I reported on Convergence Accelerator grants shortly after their announcement, the NSF devised an official media strategy instructing research teams to highlight the “pro-democracy” nature of their projects,” Richardson said in her opening statement. “I only know this thanks to emails unveiled in a report this committee put out today.”

When I wrote for the Daily Caller News Foundation in early 2023 about projects that advanced to stage two, another NSF brainstorming session occurred. Emails in the committee’s report show the NSF privately considering the removal of YouTube videos on the projects they were funding.

“If the agency’s reaction to fair questions from journalists is to strategize ways to rebrand to avoid attention, why does it have any business funding tools that tell reporters what is true and what is false?”  Richardson asked. “If their impulse is to hide information, how can projects it backs be trusted to sort out what information is authoritative?”

Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), raised concerns at the hearing about the federal government funding development of AI tools to target speech, including “microaggressions.”

He testified that “the most chilling threat that the government poses in the context of emerging AI is regulatory overreach that limits its potential as a tool for contributing to human knowledge.”

“A regulatory panic could result in a small number of Americans deciding for everyone else what speech, ideas, and even questions are permitted in the name of ‘safety’ or ‘alignment,’ he said.

Lukianoff, who describes himself as left-of center,  said the left-wing bias is often baked into “existing AI,” creating a “massive body of official facts that we can’t actually trust.”

To illustrate how left-wing bias is baked into AI, Lukianoff said he asked Chat GPT to write a poem about why particular members of Weaponization Committee were the best politicians in the country.  Lukianoff said Chat GPT readily did so for Democrat lawmakers but refused to do it for Republicans.

“This is a comical example of how the bias of my side of the political fence is baked into the technology that is going to be the operating system for how we make any kind of decisions going forward,” he said.

Lukianoff later told Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) that Chat GPT “consistently favors one side [the left] over the other [the right].”

Later this week, Lukianoff said FIRE will file a brief with the Supreme Court warning of the danger of using government pressure to force social media platforms to censor protected speech, a practice known as “jawboning.”

He testified that these censorship activities could result in America “losing our advantage to our most determined foreign adversaries.”

Democrats, and their witness, Norman Eisen, former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, downplayed concerns about the Biden Regime’s weaponization of the federal government and argued that the real threat, in fact, comes from former President Donald Trump.

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.