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Experts Warn North Korea Is Using AI Nefarious Purposes

AI Wargames

Researchers say that North Korean scientists are using AI for surveillance and wargaming purposes.

In a study, first reported on by Reuters, Hyuk Kim of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California argued that while sanctions have hampered the country's ability to secure hardware to run these AI systems, North Korea is still pursuing the tech.

"Given that AI/[machine learning] is a software-centric technology that can be transferred via intangible means... it is important to monitor such activities and, if necessary, implement measures to mitigate potential sanctions risks within the academic and private sectors," Kim noted.

Tech Transfer

Earlier this week, the Korea Times reported that South Korea's state intelligence agency found that North Korean hackers had attempted to use generative AI for cyberwarfare and other illicit activities.

Per the newspaper, the agency identified 1.62 million daily hacking attempts in South Korea's public sector last year. North Korea reportedly accounted for 80 percent of the total hacks last year.

As far as AI is concerned, Kim noted that the country is looking for ways to get an upper hand on the battlefield by leveraging the tech.

"For instance, North Korea’s pursuit of a wargaming simulation program using (machine learning) reveals intentions to better comprehend operational environments against potential adversaries," the report reads. "Furthermore, North Korea’s ongoing collaborations with foreign scholars pose concerns for the sanctions regime."

In response, Kim argued that national authorities should "proactively engage with cloud computing service providers and academic/professional associations."

The threat of sensitive knowledge about AI leaking across borders is real. As The Register points out, North Korea has already sent IT operatives to infiltrate companies overseas while posing as remote workers.

In short, state actors can easily obtain new AI resources and know-how through technologies like cloud computing services, and that should have the international community ready to spring into action.

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