Flinders U’s own US ally

The university has a new research centre to address the “weaponisation of social media”. It’s named for Jeff Bleich the Obama administration 2009-2013 ambassador to Australia

The Jeff Bleich Centre for the US Alliance in Digital Technology, Security, and Governance, launched last night, will, “adopt a multidisciplinary approach to social science by bringing together the three key areas of technology, security, governance.”

It will work with government, industry and NGOs on “current and emerging issues in cyber security.”

“Flinders is the ideal home for the centre with its long-term track record in American studies, its focus on disruptive technologies, and its successful bi-national programs,” Ambassador Bleich says.

Described as a “long-time friend” of Flinders U, Ambassador Bleich is also appointed a professorial fellow.

He addressed the broad research challenge for the centre in a well-received speech to Universities Australia in 2017;

“We need to restructure information systems so that facts matter, false statements are exposed, and making false claims has real consequences. The irony of the information age is that increasingly we seem to know more, but understand less. But this can be fixed. Imagine a world where every article is immediately fact-checked by libraries, and reviewed for accuracy and relevance by a trusted board of editors drawing on high speed computers. Where every article has the equivalent of a yelp-rating, or is crowd-corrected wikipedia style. Where every false and digitally altered image can be exposed through blockchain technology. Universities can do this. After a while, just as we know which restaurants to avoid, we would know which writers and journals and articles and politicians we can’t trust.”

Foundation funding for the centre comes from Flinders U and an anonymous donation described as “not insubstantial, given the scale of the initiative.”


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