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Google Ideas Think Tank Gathering Former Extremists to Battle Radicalization

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Jared Cohen

Google Ideas' Jared Cohen

Photo courtesy of Washington Life Magazine

The Google Ideas think tank has gathered 80 former radicals, including ex-neo-Nazis, Muslim extremists, and U.S. gang members, to brainstorm ways technology can counter radicalization around the world in collaboration with 120 thinkers, activists, philanthropists, and business leaders.

"The hope from the conference is that we will figure out some of the 'best practices' of how you can break youth radicalization," says James M. Lindsay with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Efforts to reform radicals have up to now been largely government-administrated and concentrated on specific groups. Google Ideas director Jared Cohen says the strategy is to treat extremism as a universal challenge that spans across cultural, religious, political, ideological, and geographical lines. He theorizes that bringing together former extremists could point to common threads that draw people to violence.

"If we compartmentalize different radicalization challenges, that also means we compartmentalize the de-radicalization solutions," which could be a lost opportunity, Cohen says. He notes that in the coming months a campaign could tap YouTube, use advanced mapping methods, or generate alternative Web spaces to compete with radicalizing influences.

From The Washington Post
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