AI-powered robots have the potential to attack the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and cause disruption on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a cyber security expert.
Ian Hogarth, who works on the UK’s AI task force set up to help protect against the dangers of artificial intelligence, says the developing technology is capable of an attack that could cripple the country’s NHS or even carry out a “biological attack”, according to a Daily Star report.
Hogarth noted that AI technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, which he warned would lower the barriers to “committing some kind of cyberattack or cybercrime.”
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Hogarth’s AI working group has received £100 million, about $124 million, in government funding, the Daily Star reports, with the group’s work so far focused on security research that could help develop useful tools like with ChatGPT.
The UK’s ‘AI czar’ said it was important for countries around the world to work together to mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence. Hogarth specifically noted that it was also important to include countries such as China in these discussions, which has become even more critical following the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s just like pandemics. It’s something you can’t handle on your own,” Hogarth said. “The kind of risks we pay more attention to are heightened national security risks.”
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“These are basically global risks,” he added. “And in the same way that we work with China on aspects of biosecurity and cyber security, I think there’s real value in international cooperation around larger-scale risks.”
Hogarth noted that much of the tech industry has begun to focus its attention on artificial intelligence, which has led to rapid improvements in the technology but also highlighted the risks.
The AI expert pointed to the WannaCry cyber attack on the NHS in 2017 that led to the cancellation of 19,000 patient appointments and cost the country’s health service £92 million, or $114 million, arguing that rapid advances in AI technology could make such attacks easier .
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“A huge number of people in technology right now are trying to develop AI systems that are superhuman at writing code… This technology is getting better every day,” Hogarth said. “And essentially, what it does is it lowers the barriers to committing some kind of cyberattack or cybercrime.”