AI and Geopolitics: Progress or Global Threat?

Artificial intelligence

The progress of the development of technologies linked to the use of artificial intelligence and their integration into human systems has led to an increase in the study of consequences to try to fully understand the benefits and risks.

Artificial intelligence
Ph Markus Spiske

It is undeniable that the development of this technology could pose serious risks to national security and international political stability. The applications of this technology are so wide that it is very difficult to list them all.

The main definition of an artificial intelligence system is the ability to “machine learning”: the possibility for a digital technology not only to automate a function, but also to learn from its interactions with the environment and consequently to predict and optimise decisions and results.

In terms of national security, the applications of artificial intelligence certainly include surveillance and profiling, primarily through the screening of social networks and the internet and the consequent use of predictive algorithms. Indeed, the internet is the main supply chain for artificial intelligence. Through the network, AI feeds on human knowledge, learns, evaluates, modifies, plans.

It is easy to see that this tiny fraction of the potential of the use of this technology is already a cause for serious concern in terms of security. Indeed, the big picture of AI development is a tangle of inter-state rivalries, all seeking a monopoly in the field.

There is a growing certainty that AI is the key to future global military, cyber, economic and ideological dominance. This certainty is well understood by major international players such as the US, Russia, China, India and others.

The research of world powers in the field is also moving towards the integration of AI into autonomous weapons, drones, ships, robots, as well as the integration of AI into decision-making processes on the battlefield.

At the same time, global powers are trying to dismantle the globalization of AI technology to control collaboration on research and development and technology transfer. Individual nations and alliance systems are beginning to support their own versions of AI standards and technology bases. During this process, the huge data sets held by governments, companies and various data brokers have become a real strategic resource. Data is the new oil needed to train machine learning algorithms.

Governments have been actively exploring ways in which these datasets can be used as weapons. For example, they could be used to create cyber weapons targeting critical infrastructure, influence another country’s information systems, build better profiles of its elites for influence targeting, and form a clearer picture of the internal dynamics of a political system. The increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds, enabled by AI, is constantly creating new infrastructure vulnerabilities.

For example, the development of “smart cities”, the mass automation of public infrastructure through sensors and learning algorithms, will open up new avenues for surveillance, use of data as weapons and cybercriminal activities. It will also provide possible foreign adversaries with additional means to enter rival companies and attack the infrastructure from within.

Also, worth mentioning is the new trend of using AI to control society, of which China is a pioneer. It is precisely it, in the implementation of state surveillance and empowered by artificial intelligence provides an illustration of a chilling totalitarian vision, ubiquitous and unconquerable, of intimate control of individual citizens through their dependence on integrated digital intelligent systems.

It is becoming more and more clear that the uncontrolled development and use of such technology, without a coordination between states aimed at the implementation of the global human condition, instead of the interests of individual nations or particular power groups, will transform an innovative and revolutionary idea into an unstoppable weapon that will change our society and human balances forever.

It should be noted that the use of ai also has positive implications. It can be used to solve problems, in any field, which humanity is not yet able to cope with. We are talking about sectors such as, for example, medicine, or environmental protection, or space exploration.

However, ceding the control of humanity to “artificial consciousnesses” able to analyse in the blink of an eye our every evaluation with mathematical certainty and to prevent our actions and provide solutions generated in evaluations of mere sequences of calculation, could be a not so brilliant idea or perhaps will end the concept of “humanity” in its current conception.

Adriano Margarone

for Insider Release

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