In technology, you often hear geeks referencing the classic “garbage in, garbage out” problem. When the inputs to a system are bad, however beautifully crafted the program itself may be, the outputs will necessarily be bad as well. Our democratic systems are dependent on the input of citizens, but when disinformation is also an input the outputs of our processes can be deeply flawed. Disinformation and the systemic distrust it fuels has been a dangerous ingredient in the global surge of nativism, intolerance, and polarization undermining democracy and human rights around the world. Understanding and stopping disinformation is a tremendous challenge; any single solution will be incomplete so many will be required. In 2018, the fastest, most virulent and dangerous disinformation is spreading on digital platforms, and as such technical understanding is critical to wrap our heads around the problem.
Chris Doten is the Chief Innovation Officer at NDI and leads the NDItech team. Chris has designed and implemented programs in dozens of countries which apply integrated, context-appropriate technology to reach more citizens, track political processes, improve organizing capabilities, and open data. Chris specializes in the challenges of internet freedom and cybersecurity in closed societies and has worked with at-risk digital activists from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. Having previously worked for the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Chris is skilled at the pragmatic application of cutting-edge digital communications, big data and organizing tools in political campaigns. Chris earned a BA in Computer Science and History from Carleton College and a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.