Artificial intelligence: “Clear and present danger’

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is expected to become a “game changer” enabling more sophisticated cyber and physical attacks on individuals, groups and institutions, international experts warned on Wednesday.

The world is likely to see rapid growth in cyber- crime and the use of drones over the next decade, with “an unprecedented rise in the use of [internet] ‘bots’ to manipulate everything from elections to the news agenda and social media,” the experts said in a report.

The 26 experts from Cambridge and Oxford universities, think-tanks, cyber security firms and digital rights groups urged governments and corporations to “address the clear and present danger inherent in the myriad applications of AI.”

“AI will alter the landscape of risk for citizens, organizations and states – whether it’s criminals training machines to hack or ‘phish’ at human levels of performance or privacy-eliminating surveillance, profiling and repression,” said one of the authors, Miles Brundage, a researcher at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute.

Brundage warned that systems based on artificial intelligence often “significantly surpass” human performance.

“It is troubling, but necessary, to consider the implications of superhuman hacking, surveillance, persuasion, and physical target identification, as well as AI capabilities that are subhuman but nevertheless much more scalable than human labour,” he said.

The experts said they expect “novel cyber attacks” using tools such as automated hacking, speech synthesis, and targeted emails based on personal information found on social media.

“Likewise, the proliferation of drones and cyber-physical systems will allow attackers to deploy or repurpose such systems for harmful ends, such as crashing fleets of autonomous vehicles, turning commercial drones into face-targeting missiles or holding critical infrastructure to ransom,” they said.

The rise of autonomous weapons systems in conflicts risks “the loss of meaningful human control,” while detailed political analytics, targeted propaganda and fake videos “present powerful tools for manipulating public opinion on previously unimaginable scales.”

“The ability to aggregate, analyse and act on citizen’s information at scale using AI could enable new levels of surveillance, invasions of privacy and threaten to radically shift the power between individuals, corporations and states,” the report said.(dpa/NAN)


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