How technology could help predict terrorist attacks
The internet has become a weapon for terrorists, who use social media and other technologies to organise, recruit and spread propaganda. So is it possible to turn technology around and use it to not only catch terrorists but predict and potentially stop terror attacks before they happen?
One thing we can do is use technology to search for patterns in the activity and language of terrorists and their supporters online. If we can spot trends that typically occur in the run up to an attack, it may be possible to automatically identify when future acts of violence are being planned. In a new study, researchers from Harvard University attempted to do just this. They used computer simulations to show how unofficial groups of online Islamic State (IS) supporters spread and grow through social networking sites and how this relates to the timing of violent attacks.
This follows research into how messages on Twitter can be classified to predict whether someone will support or oppose IS. Other researchers have used data-mining techniques on social media data to try to work out when supporters “begin to adopt pro-IS behaviour”.
Affiliation: Edge Hill University
Affiliation: University Bern
Wolfgang Tschacher was born in Stuttgart, Germany, studied psychology at Tübingen University where he received his Ph.D. in 1990. Psychotherapy training in systemic therapy at the Institute of Family Therapy, Munich. Habilitation in psychology and Venia legendi 1996 at University of Bern, Switzerland, professorship in 2002. He currently works at the University Hospital of Psychiatry, where he founded the department of psychotherapy research. His main interests are in quantitative psychotherapy research, time-series methods and experimental psychopathology, with an emphasis on dynamical systems, complexity science, embodied cognition, and phenomena of cognitive self-organization. Organizer of the series of ‘Herbstakademie’ conferences on systems theory in psychology. For a list of publications and conference information see www.upd.unibe.ch or www.embodiment.ch
Affiliation: Hong Kong Polytechnic University
I am Assistant Professor at the Department of English, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. I work on linguistic and communication patterns in mental healthcare discourse including psychotherapy, counseling, and public health promotion, and enjoy collaborative research with mental healthcare practitioners. I have a keen interest in the use, management of, and response to metaphors in psychotherapy across different cultural contexts. Relevant publications include a monograph (Metaphor in Psychotherapy. A Descriptive and Prescriptive Analysis. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins) and articles in both linguistics and psychology journals.
Affiliation: Sigmund Freud University Vienna and Università del Salento
Dr. Omar Gelo graduated in Psychology at the University of Urbino (Italy) in 2000. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Ulm (Germany) in 2007, where he also worked as a research assistant. In 2007 he begun to work as assistant professor at the Department of Psychotherapy Science of the Sigmund Freud University Vienna (Austria). In 2008 he became Assistant Professor for Dynamic Psychology at the Department of History, Society and Human Studies of the University of Salento (Italy). Since 2014 he is Associate Professor for Dynamic Psychology at the same department where he since then director of the Bachelor and Master Program in Psychology. Since 2008 he works as consultant of the Sigmund Freud University Vienna (Austria), where he also the director of the International Ph.D. Program in Psychotherapy Science at the Sigmund Freud University Vienna (Austria).
His research interests concern: (a) the epistemological reflection on the scientific status of psychotherapy and psychological intervention; (b) the methodological reflection on the application of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods in psychotherapy and clinical research; (c) the empirical investigation of the psychotherapeutic process in different therapeutic schools (comparative process-outcome research); (d) psychotherapy integration; and (e) the application of dynamic systems theory to the study of psychotherapy; (e) the investigation of psychotherapeutic development. He recently co-edited the volume “Psychotherapy Research: Foundations, Process, and Outcome” (Springer, Vienna).
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