Regulate artificial intelligence to avert cyber arms race

Define an international doctrine for cyberspace skirmishes before they escalate into conventional warfare, urge Mariarosaria Taddeo and Luciano Floridi.

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Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent, sophisticated and destructive. Each day in 2017, the United States suffered, on average, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks, which encrypt computer files until the owner pays to release them. In 2015, the daily average was just 1,000. As the threats escalate, so do defence tactics. Since 2012, the United States has used ‘active’ cyberdefence strategies, in which computer experts neutralize or distract viruses with decoy targets, or break into a hacker’s computer to delete data or destroy the system. Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to revolutionize this activity. Attacks and responses will become faster, more precise and more disruptive. The risk is a cyber arms race. As states use increasingly aggressive AI-driven strategies, opponents will respond ever more fiercely. Such a vicious cycle might lead ultimately to a physical attack. Regulations are thus necessary for state use of AI, as they are for other military domains — air, sea, land and space.

By Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi


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