Saturday, 17 August, 2019

AI exploitation 'risks are real' and pose significant security threats, report says

Santiago Zavala Santiago Zavala
Patty Aguilar | 21 February, 2018, 15:01

Artificial intelligence (AI) is ripe for exploitation by criminal gangs and terrorists, a stark new report has claimed with experts calling for restrictions to be introduced immediately - before it is too late.

Experts are anxious that hackers could use the technology for criminal activities such as driverless auto crashes or turn commercial drones into targeted weapons, according to the report from the Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence.

According to a group of 26 experts from various universities, civil society organizations, and think-tanks, the threat landscape can undergo dramatic changes in the next five to ten years.

In a 100-page analysis, they outlined a rapid growth in cybercrime and the use of "bots" to interfere with news gathering and penetrate social media among a host of plausible scenarios in the next five to 10 years.

It also warns that AI could facilitate the rise of highly believable fake videos and intelligent bots which could be used to manipulate news, public opinion, social media and elections.

"We all agree there are a lot of positive applications of AI", said researcher Miles Brundage from Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute.

The report warns that computers could be used to mimic people's voices and hack into personal data, fleets of autonomous vehicles could be hacked into and made to crash, and drones could use face-targeting missiles to locate victims.

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"We believe there is reason to expect attacks enabled by the growing use of AI to be especially effective, finely targeted, hard to attribute, and likely to exploit vulnerabilities in AI systems", the report's authors conclude.

"We live in a world that could become fraught with day-to-day hazards from the misuse of AI and we need to take ownership of the problems - because the risks are real".

"Our report focuses on ways in which people could do deliberate harm with AI", said Sean O hEigeartaigh, executive director of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

The report sounded the alarm for the potential misuse of AI by rogue states, criminals and lone-wolf attackers.

"For many decades hype outstripped fact in terms of AI and machine learning". The authors also noted that AI is a dual-use technology and that researchers and engineers ought to be both mindful and proactive about its potential for misuse. No longer. This report looks at the practices that just don't work anymore - and suggests broad approaches that might help: "for example, how to design software and hardware to make it less hackable - and what type of laws and global regulations might work in tandem with this", hÉigeartaigh said.

"The point here is not to paint a doom-and-gloom picture, there are many defences that can be developed and there's much for us to learn", Brundage told The Verge.

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