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The Threats of AI and Disinformation in Times of Global Crises

Disinformation word cloud


In times of major global events such as conflicts, health and natural disasters, and elections, repressive regimes and political actors worldwide leverage technologies to conduct warfare and influence public opinion. As the need for information grows, disinformation spreads rapidly across digital platforms. Additionally, AI-assisted tools have enabled the automation of warfare and human rights abuses.

Israel’s recent war on Gaza after October 7 has exposed the myriad methods of digital dehumanization and deception that can result in tech-driven atrocities and justifications for war crimes. Whether it is political influence operations, propaganda, deep fakes, biometric surveillance, predictive policing, or autonomous weapons, the threats of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and disinformation are far-reaching. Arab Center Washington DC and the Institute for Middle East Studies at The George Washington University are convening a panel of experts to discuss the roles and threats of emerging technologies during major global crises.


  • Susan Aboeid is the coordinator for the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from Yale University. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, she worked as an educator in Nablus, West Bank and as an education and human rights consultant with UNRWA in Amman.

  • Marwa Fatafta leads Access Now’s policy and advocacy work on digital rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Her work spans a number of issues at the nexus of human rights and technology including content governance and platform accountability, online censorship, digital surveillance, and transnational repression. She has written extensively on the digital occupation in Palestine and focuses on the role of new technologies in armed conflicts and humanitarian contexts and their impact on historically marginalized and oppressed communities.

  • Marc Owen Jones is an Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University, where he lectures and researches on political repression and informational control strategies. His recent work has focused on the way social media has been used to spread disinformation and fake news in the Middle East.

  • Laura Nolan is a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. She has been a software engineer in the industry for over 15 years. Most recently, she worked at Google in Ireland as a Staff Site Reliability Engineer. She was one of the (many) signatories of the “cancel Maven” open letter, which called for Google to cancel its involvement in the US DoD’s project to use artificial intelligence technology to analyze drone surveillance footage. She campaigned within Google against Project Maven, before leaving the company in protest against it. In 2018 Laura also founded TechWontBuildIt Dublin, an organization for technology workers who are concerned about the ethical implications of the tech industry.

  • Tamara Kharroub is the Deputy Executive Director and a Senior Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC. Her research work focuses on the intersection of technology and human rights and democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. She publishes research and policy analysis papers and editorials exploring the role of media and communication technology in the political process including issues of digital authoritarianism and repression, disinformation and information environments, cyber power and geopolitics, surveillance technologies, propaganda and media representation, identity politics online, artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons, and digital rights, in addition to research on Palestine/ Israel and US policy there.

  • Will Youmans is an Associate Professor at the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs. Broadly interested in questions of transnationalism, power and communication, his primary research interests include global news, law and politics. His other areas of interest include researching terrorism, American international broadcasting, Middle East politics and Arab-American studies.