AI Startup NWO.ai Helps Ukraine Combat Russian Disinfo

NWO.ai was designed to spot emerging trends online. But its ability to discern things like emotional manipulation and disinformation tactics enabled the software to become an effective weapon in Ukraine’s war against Russian invaders.

The blue dots on the graph above represent microtrends or keyword associations with the "Russian Invasion of Ukraine" signal. NWO.ai detected an inflection point of a significant increase in mentions on October 11, 2021.

Three-year-old startup NWO.ai, has an AI crystal ball of sorts – its algorithms analyze online text at gigantic scale. The software was designed to enable marketers and corporate communicators to detect emerging online trends and memes. But it can also discern things like emotional manipulation and the use of loaded language, that are often associated with disinformation. That has enabled it to become an unconventional but effective weapon in Ukraine’s war against its Russian invaders.

In a Gilded Age building in New York’s Flatiron District, Pulkit Jaiswal, the company’s co-founder, works with a seasoned crew of data scientists and machine learning engineers to repurpose its powerful AI engine to analyze millions of Russian propagandist texts and identify patterns, to thwart potential incipient disinformation campaigns. The software automatically shortlists Russian-origin signals that have a high probability of breaking out and making the rounds worldwide. Today, NWO.ai supports multiple teams in Ukraine, including The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security.  The Centre is at the forefront of defending Ukraine and the world against a global misinformation war.

Since founding NWO.ai in 2019, Jaiswal has assembled data scientists and engineers who have taken his learnings from the hedge fund world and translated it into the world of consumer trends – helping a slew of Fortune 500 companies, including Diageo and Proctor & Gamble, stay ahead of the competition. Whether it’s predicting that seaweed extract will be the future of skincare or that cucumber fragrances in vodka might be the next big liquor trend, NWO.ai presents data in a handsome visual form that offers a range of predictions about where future concepts might go. Joining him as a co-founder is Sourav Goswami, a seasoned private equity executive who maps Jaiswal’s high-tech vision to real-world business applications. Their journey began with oat milk, when their system predicted it was likely to become a major trend around the beginning of the pandemic.  Informed in part by the analysis surfaced by NWO.ai’s platform, a client decided to buy a stake in a major oat milk brand. Needless to say, that was a smart move.

NWO.ai’s expansion into the government and national security sectors was always on the company’s roadmap. Still, its founders accelerated the process when they learned there was an opportunity to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom and global democracy. As Jaiswal and Goswami continue to grow their company’s business and customer base of commercial clients, they are working with the Ukrainian government because it understands better than most that in the war of words, the narrative is king, and today’s information battle is digital.

NWO.ai’s Ukraine connection evolved after I ran into Jaiswal at a conference.  I’m a native New Yorker of Ukrainian descent with experience organizing U.S.-Ukraine technology partnerships and projects, and a passion for helping the country defend itself.  After watching a presentation by Jaiswal at a conference, I realized NWO.ai’s technology could help Ukraine.  I approached him afterward and was impressed by his immediate interest in supporting the cause, which appears to have been born of a genuine instinct toward corporate social responsibility.

I support Ukraine together with OODA, a unique Reston, Virginia-based consultancy of top technologists and national security experts. I asked them to evaluate NWO.ai’s platform.  They were impressed.  Bob Gourley, OODA co-founder and former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the USA, told me, “NWO.ai is an exciting platform because it helps decision makers keep a tight OODA loop, the cycle of observe–orient–decide–act, developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd.”

With the vote of confidence from OODA and Gourley, who joined the NWO advisory board, I arranged for NWO to demonstrate its platform for Ukrainian experts in identifying and countering Russian disinformation.  Mykola Balaban, deputy head of the Centre, says, “Russia has dedicated vast resources to distort the information space and help achieve its military and geopolitical goals.  Part of the strategy is to flood the world with misinformation to confuse citizens and business and government leaders.  NWO.ai’s platform is powerful but also very user-friendly; that’s a rare and potent combination that makes our job easier. The technology has already proven to be helpful in our war efforts.”

NWO’s advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine continuously transforms petabytes of unstructured narrative data into intuitive visual metrics and clear intelligence that can be used on the digital front line. NWO.ai’s ability to understand and bring order to massive amounts of complex data is key for all users of its platform.  It helps improve decision making by replacing subjectiveness with hard facts and data that anyone can easily understand through NWO.ai’s user interface.

Jaiswal is one of the youngest honorees ever in the annual MIT Innovators Under 35 List in 2015, and also was included this year in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 rankings.

This past February 15th, just over a week before the Russian invasion, NWO’s algorithms detected a Russian disinformation inflection point. A stream of Russian news articles and social media posts were calling for the “Denazification of Ukraine.” At the time, Putin falsely claimed that Ukrainian Neo-Nazi forces were committing “genocide” in the Donbas region. As the invasion drew closer, more misinformation came out of Russia to preemptively justify an attack. NWO.ai was able to quantify and measure the distribution of the misinformation narratives, in this example with “Ukraine Denazification,” across social media and news, to forecast the growth in these signals.

Putin used this rhetoric in calling for a full invasion days later. In moments like this, Jaiswal’s data analysts are cautious. “While we can pinpoint one narrative as a strong signal for the invasion, early identification of a number of these narratives and comparing them to historical ones is critical to make informed decisions,” he says. “This is where AI comes in – to help us identify these narratives early and often.”

For the duration of Russia’s war against Ukraine, NWO will provide the Centre and other stakeholders in Ukraine with free platform access and expert support.  The company also provides the Centre with weekly intelligence reports based on signals surfaced by the platform.  The Centre and NWO also recently agreed on a joint project to monitor and analyze the impact of RT, the Russian state-controlled television network, on citizens around the world.  The results of this project will be provided to leaders of Ukraine and its allies. Artificial intelligence has become one of the most powerful tools in modern warfare.

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