Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Artificial intelligence advances address challenges to cyber security

Advancements in AI technology to ‘change the way states fight wars’

The presence of cyber security companies has become a key feature of DSEI as AI advances bring new challenges to the defence industry. AP 
The presence of cyber security companies has become a key feature of DSEI as AI advances bring new challenges to the defence industry. AP 

Experts have warned that an “arms race” is underway as countries try to use artificial intelligence to boost cyber security skills.

“Whoever masters artificial intelligence will dominate the world in the future”, a senior NATO cyber defence official told the DSEI 2019 conference in London.

The official called on policymakers to pursue the technology and not be caught up in ethical debates over autonomous weapons systems and so-called killer robots.

“There will be killer robots out there not bound by morality, ethics, or law,” he said.

Retired US Navy Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, who served as director of naval intelligence and was the former deputy chief for information warfare, also warned that developments in AI and cyber warfare will pose significant new challenges to security across the world.

The speaker’s comments echoed an address given by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind … Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world”.

Leaders from the world’s largest militaries are pouring money into artificial intelligence research, including into autonomous weapons systems, several of which were on display at DSEI.

AI and cyber warfare pose a threat to critical infrastructure in the Gulf of Arabia, she said, pointing to a cyber-attack which hit Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco in 2017.

The attack is believed to be the first ever example of malware being used to target safety infrastructure at an industrial facility.

Ms Tighe said that the threat posed by AI and cyber warfare was a global issue.

The exhibitors’ halls at the world’s largest arms fair were dominated by an increasing number of cyber security firms

According to research published in 2019 by market intelligence company VYNZ research, the global cyber security industry could be worth over $280 billion by 2024, as governments and companies scramble to safeguard assets from malicious attacks.

Senior AI researcher Dr Andrew Puryear told the conference that AI “is truly going to change the way nation states fight wars”.

“AI does not get tired,” he said, adding that the technology could allow for superhuman precision and reliability in military applications.

For states fighting wars, AI can act as a “force multiplier”, or a means of amplifying the effectiveness of a fighting force, he said.

Amid the warnings over the threat posed by artificial intelligence, speakers highlighted the significant potential of developments to the technology.

“We are on the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution,” he said, adding that the technology will positively impact the “entire economies” of nations able to harness it.

Updated: September 10, 2019 07:43 PM

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