Issac Asimov’s Harry Seldon used “psycho-history” to predict the future. Tom Cruise used “precogs” in Minority Report. And now a pro-Putin think tank is trying to divine dissident activity by mining social media.
The Center for Research in Legitimacy and Political Protest claims to have developed software that will search Russian social media posts for signs of plans by political opposition to the government to stage unapproved protests or meetings. Described by an Izvestia report as “a system to prevent mass disorder,” the software searches through social media posts once every five minutes to catch hints of “unauthorized actions” and potentially alert law enforcement to prevent them.
Public protests, rallies, marches, and meetings staged without government approval are outlawed in Russia—individuals can be fined up to about $600 (30,000 rubles) for participating in such events or sentenced to 50 hours of community service.
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