Advisory Board

Virgil Griffith

The Wired article See Who’s Editing Wikipedia – Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign said

On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company’s machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.
 
In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.
 
Wikipedia Scanner — the brainchild of Cal Tech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith — offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses.

Virgil Griffith also known as Romanpoet, is an American hacker, best known for his involvement with a 2003 lawsuit with the Blackboard Inc. company. He has also published papers on artificial life and is the author of the Wikipedia Scanner.
 
Virgil has given talks at the hacker conferences Interz0ne, PhreakNIC, and HOPE. It was at Interz0ne 1 in 2002 that he met Billy Hoffman, a Georgia hacker who had discovered a security flaw in the campus magnetic ID card system called “BuzzCard”. He and Hoffman proceeded over the next year to learn more about the flaw and attempted to give a talk at Interz0ne2 in April 2003. However, a few hours before the presentation, he and Hoffman were served with a cease and desist letter. Two days later, it was followed by a lawsuit from Blackboard Inc. alleging that they had stolen trade secrets as well as violated both the DMCA and the Espionage and Sedition Act. The lawsuit was later settled.
 
He authored Virus Histograms and coauthored On the Viability of Self-reproducing Classical Machines and Messin’ With Texas — Deriving Mother’s Maiden Names Using Public Records with was turned into an active demo.
 
Virgil studied cognitive science at Indiana University and is now a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology. He is affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute as a visiting researcher.
 
Read The Trouble with Anonymity on the Web and Wikipedia Edited by CIA Computers. Watch Colbert Report coverage of Virgil. Watch PhreakNIC 9 – Virgil – Explorations in Artificial Life.