November 2011 - Comments Off

The Topology of Human Networks Online

A current research topic of mine has been the architecting of social groupings and communities to shape the topology of human networks online. It's a new discipline that merges traditional computer security, social science, cognitive hacking, and computational ethology to think concretely about influence and behavior on the internet. Mathematical models that quantify the topological characteristics of complex networks provide insights into a system's controllability. My work comprises of the manufacturing, distribution, and automation of personas that are "socialbots" - robots that attempt to emulate every attribute of a person. The bots then attempt to influence human targets to behave in certain ways.

Through this work, the I'm particularly interested in the fabrication of social prosthetics to provide missing features to a network. Conducting the bots to lower frictions that prevent stories, ideas and other features of a network from being shared and distributed to other users. With community detection capabilities, bots can identify users with similar interests and group them to have heavier edges within the network. Modeling a network allows socialbots to act tactically based on user relations and interests. Recent field test results suggest increased human to human interaction in a network with deployed socialbots. This work is the first of it's kind to demonstrates the use of automation tools to shape online communities at a large scale.

Max Nanis '12: Community Detection on My Own Personal Twitter Account

Max Nanis '12: A Network Prior to Bot Activity

Max Nanis '12: The Same Network After Bot Activity

Published by: in Prose, Visual, Volume 68

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