There are two main opinions regarding the future of Artificial Intelligence and humanity, and both have movie analogies. The first movie is Disney’s Aladdin, In which AI is comparable to Genie, an all-powerful wish granting machine which will fix all of man’s problems. In contrast, there’s The Terminator, in which the AI will enslave or eliminate humanity. I find both ideas to be ridiculously precise because they sound like a plot to a movie. If we’re being realistic, the future of AI and humanity is going to most similar to Blade Runner. I don’t say this because it’s the best of the three movies, that’s beside the point. I say this because we are already seeing what happened in Blade Runner happen today.
A Quick Summary of Blade Runner
Blade Runner is about Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter that hunts replicants, dangerous androids that can mimic human behavior so perfectly that a special test needs to be administered to determine whether a target is human or a replicant. The film asks the question, “If technology can perfectly replicate reality then how do you tell the difference?”
How does AI Play into the Real World
Today, we have examples of technology mimicking humanity that, in certain settings, are indistinguishable. For example, Twitter was the subject of a recent Pew Research survey that estimated two-thirds of tweets to popular websites are bots. Bots are known to actively spread fake news, disrupt stats, push specific political narratives, target facebook users with ads, and even manipulate elections. The disruption and confusion caused by bots in the last year was massive. But they were just using simple Twitter bots. Imagine if they were using Google’s latest technology!
Google has recently released their Google Duplex, an AI designed “for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments.” In a demonstration, Duplex called both a hair salon and a restaurant. The employees who answered the phone had no idea that they were speaking to a machine. Now, Google would never use this technology for evil, because they are apolitical. But imagine this type of technology in the hands of a foreign government. You thought the Twitter bots were bad? Imagine having millions of robocalls by an AI with the voice of the candidates running. The ensuing misinformation could cause a Republican candidate to suddenly become a Democrat overnight. AI and how it relates to humanity will play into the future of cybersecurity heavily.
What can we do?
What cybersecurity specialists need to consider is not how AI is going to attack computers and other AI. They need to consider how it will assault people. Historical examples such as the Salem Witch Trials and the Dutch Tulip Bubble show us that it is much easier to manipulate groups than individuals. The first step in protecting the public is merely generating awareness. Start providing pamphlets at the DUV, create promotional videos and interviews with Youtubers to make the younger generation aware. The next step is infrastructure. Upgrading and securing our nations telecommunication networks needs to be a top congressional priority. The future of AI and humanity looks like a scene right out of Blade Runner. We must take action and prepare for future risks!