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The vulnerability of critical technological infrastructure

The vulnerability of critical technological infrastructure is a growing national security concern attacks pose risks to critical infrastructure. In July the US government stated that hackers had gained access to the control rooms of US utility companies.38The potential vulnerability of critical technological infrastructure has increasingly become a national security concern. The second most frequently cited risk interconnection in this year’s GPRS was the pairing of cyber-attacks with critical information infrastructure breakdown.Machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more sophisticated and prevalent, with growing potential to amplify existing risks or create new ones, particularly as the Internet of Things connects billions of devices. In a survey conducted last year by Brookings, 32% of respondents said they view AI as a threat to humanity, while only 24% do not.39IBM last year revealed targeted AI malware that can “hide” a well-known threat—WannaCry—in a video-conferencing application, activating only when it recognizes the face of the intended target.40Similar innovations are likely to occur in other fields. For example, Chapter 4 (Going Viral) highlights the potential for malicious actors in synthetic biology to use AI to create new pathogens. One of this year’s Future Shocks (Chapter 6) considers the potential consequences of “affective computing”—referring to AI that can recognize, respond to and manipulate human emotions. Among the most widespread and disruptive impacts of AI in recent years has been its role in the rise of “media echo chambers and fake news”, a risk that 69% of GRPS respondents expect to increase in 2019. Researchers last year studied the trajectories of 126,000 tweets and found that those containing fake news consistently outperformed those containing true information, on average reaching 1,500 people six times more quick-ly. One possible reason cited by researchers is that fake news tends to evoke potent emotions: “Fake tweets tended to elicit words associated with surprise and disgust, while accurate tweets summoned words associated with sadness and trust.”41 The interplay between emotions and technology is likely to become an ever more disruptive force.
Quelle: The Global Risks Report 2019

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