Artificial Intelligence: The Cyber Weapon of the Future

What is Artificial Intelligence?

More than a simple buzz word, Artificial Intelligence (A.I) is actively being used in every application by embedding algorithms that have the ability to self-improve through experience, commonly referred to as “Machine Learning”. In other words, A.I applications are designed to deliver a certain task on their own by exploring infinite number of possibilities and by identifying the optimal strategy to deliver its objective.

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A.I: Opportunity or a Threat?

A.I

Digital and artificial technology brings both advantages and disadvantages to the table.

Most importantly, A.I offers predictability and increased productivity. For example, fast food restaurants (i.e. McDonald’s) are now leveraging intelligent machines to take care of repetitive tasks such as ordering and freeing up their staff to deliver the food, clean the tables, host guests to improve customer experience.

A.I will also enable companies across industries and functions to analyze large volume of data, more than ever before.  For example, HR managers will have the ability to make decisions backed up by data and not rely solely on instincts, transforming the HR function within an organization.

While A.I offers great opportunities for humanity it also unleashes considerable threats if not governed properly.

Reality is that A.I can be turned into threatening weapons that can target individuals, organizations and nations using technology vulnerabilities or humans as the weakest link. In my opinion, A.I is the Cyber Weapon of the Future.

In fact, a recent Cylance survey showed that 62% of security experts think we’ll see the first incidents of weaponized A.I. happening in less than a year.

How?

Similar to any other weapons, A.I in the hands of terrorists can poise considerable damage to their targets without leaving any trace. The reason is, once an A.I weapon is developed it can operate, learn, evolve and deliver definite tasks autonomously with minimum human interference. The only way to defeat weaponized A.I is with more ethical A.I applications that are smarter and have the capabilities to inhibit the weapons.

Who?

Everyone, everything is a potential target

In today’s digital era, technology companies are increasingly relying on consumer data and machine learning algorithms to offer a better customer experience. However, these companies are not only tracking your interests and activities, they are also learning about your vulnerabilities and secrets. Moreover, every major device is getting connected to the internet whether this device  is a car, a fridge, a camera or a plant, increasing the attack surface for the hacker.

Every major internet facing device or application has the potential of being hijacked using weaponized A.I either by harnessing a technology vulnerability or by controlling the people that use it.

To give you a better understanding of A.I and its evil side, I will share with you some if its applications that I think will help you be more aware and prepared to for the threatening conspiracies that may rise in the future.

  1. Manipulating Financial Markets – A.I weapons can be used to target key influencer within the banking sector. Weather those are stock analysts, researchers or CEOs, terrorists can develop A.I weapons to blackmail targeted individuals using their personal character flaws. Their behavior can lead to the collapse of the financial system. Similarly, A.I can be used to directly manipulate the platform on which stock markets operate.
  2. Extorting Legal Representatives- Judges, Lawyers, court officer’s play a key influencer roles in any case’s outcome. Using A.I weapon, terrorists can intimidate and threaten them, giving them control over the case’s outcome. Similarly, A.I weapons can be used to directly manipulate evidences related to the case.
  3. Intimidating Politicians- We can all agree, that most politicians across the world have taken part or witnessed a situation that can be used against them. Therefore, they can be pushed to take a certain action or vote for a certain bill. Similarly, A.I weapons can be used to manipulate voting platforms and therefore the outcome of an elections.

Recommendation:

In my opinion, weaponized A.I is coming. It’s a matter of time. Similar to nuclear weapons, terrorism and chemical attacks we will have to be prepared to address it. The good news is that if controlled, A.I will offer a wealth of benefits that will definitely outweigh its risks. The international community need to work together to regulate artificial intelligence before it evolves into cyber arms. When this day comes, there is not turning back.

Meanwhile, be vigilant about what you post, share and download on the web.

I certainly do not have all the answers. Therefore, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Checkmate!

 

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