UK Intelligence Warns of AI’s Potential to Aid Terrorists and Criminals
The UK’s intelligence services have issued a warning about the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to be used by terrorists and criminals. In a speech ahead of a global summit on AI, Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared assessments from intelligence agencies that highlighted the risks associated with AI. The assessments suggested that AI could make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons, and could become a devastating tool for terrorist groups.
While Johnson acknowledged that the public should not be alarmist about the issue, he emphasized the need for honesty. He indicated that within the next two years, AI could significantly increase the speed and scale of certain threats. The accessibility of AI technology could empower less-sophisticated threat actors and enable new forms of attacks that were previously unattainable.
The report from the intelligence services also highlighted the digital risks posed by AI, including cyber-attacks, fraud, scams, impersonation, and the proliferation of child sexual abuse images. It noted that as AI develops and adoption widens, there is an increasing likelihood of risks to political systems and societies. The spread of synthetic media threatens democratic engagement and public trust in government institutions.
However, the intelligence agencies also acknowledged the challenges of predicting technological advances and the potential for technological surprises. The Prime Minister warned that getting AI wrong could result in the easier production of chemical or biological weapons, while terrorist groups could use AI for spreading fear and disruption on a larger scale. Criminals could exploit AI for cyber-attacks, disinformation, fraud, and even child sexual abuse.
Furthermore, there is a remote but extreme risk that humanity could lose control of AI, leading to the emergence of super intelligence. Johnson highlighted that mitigating this risk should be a global priority, alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.
To address these concerns, the UK government plans to establish the world’s first AI safety institute. This institute will carefully examine, evaluate, and test new types of AI to understand their capabilities and explore the associated risks. The Prime Minister also emphasized the importance of international collaboration, similar to the approach taken with climate change, in establishing a global expert panel to address the challenges posed by AI.
While the government aims to push for an international statement on AI risks, it does not intend to rush into regulation. However, it recognizes that assessing national security risks related to AI is a responsibility that falls primarily on governments and should not be solely left to private firms.
In terms of international engagement, Johnson defended the decision to invite China, the world’s second-largest AI power, to the AI summit. He highlighted China’s significant investment and activity in AI research. Johnson acknowledged that engagement with China does not guarantee success or agreement on all issues, but stressed the importance of working towards an international solution for the responsible development and use of AI.
In conclusion, the UK’s intelligence services have warned about the potential risks associated with AI, especially its use by terrorists and criminals. The government intends to establish an AI safety institute and prioritize international collaboration to address these concerns. While regulation may not be rushed, the government recognizes the need for careful assessment of the national security risks posed by AI.