Bots and drones may lead to cybercrime explosion

The rapid development of drones and artificial intelligence is a “game-changer” that will present a serious threat to national security if it isn’t addressed.

The assessment, made by 26 experts from institutions including Cambridge and Oxford Universities, warns of the potential for malicious use of artificial intelligence (AI) by rogue states, criminals, and terrorists.

The panel forecast a rapid growth in cybercrime and the misuse of drones during the next decade – as well an unprecedented rise in the use of ‘bots’ to manipulate everything from elections to the news agenda and social media.

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Image: Computers could be used to mimic people’s voices and hack into personal data

The report warns that computers could be used to mimic people’s voices and hack into personal data, fleets of autonomous vehicles could be hacked into and made to crash, and drones could use face-targeting missiles to locate victims.

Once information has been hacked, critical infrastructure could then be held to ransom.

“AI will alter the landscape of risk for citizens, organisations and states – whether it’s criminals training machines to hack or ‘phish’ at human levels of performance or privacy-eliminating surveillance, profiling and repression – the full range of impacts on security is vast,” warned Miles Brundage, of Oxford University.

The report recommends that governments give more consideration to how the threat can be mitigated.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: A logo is displayed on a television screen in the National Cyber Security Centre on February 14, 2017 in London, England. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is designed to improve Britain's fight against cyber attacks and act as an operational nerve centre. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Image: The NCSC say they are vigilant to threats and ready to defend them

One of the report’s authors, Dr Sean O hEigeartaigh, from Cambridge University said that “artificial intelligence is a game changer and this report has imagined what the world could look like in the next five to ten years.

“We live in a world that could become fraught with day-to-day hazards from the misuse of AI and we need to take ownership of the problems – because the risks are real.

“There are choices that we need to make now, and our report is a call-to-action for governments, institutions and individuals across the globe.”

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) told Sky News that the “The NCSC protects the UK against cyber-attacks from a range of threat actors, including nation states and criminals.

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“We are vigilant to threats, wherever they come from, and ready to defend against them using the full spectrum of capabilities at our disposal.

“We are working to make the UK a hard target and raise the cost for those who would do us harm.”

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