Britain’s MI5, MI6 Team with AWS to Catch Bad Actors, Stop Disinformation
It should have been easy to see a deal like this coming. AI has been a known part of the spy business since the Patriot Act, but now it’s even more in the open with reports from Reuters.com and Financialtimes.com on a new deal signed between Amazon and Britain’s major espionage agencies.
The Cheltenham-based Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)—the British equivalent of the NSA—is publishing a paper titled “Pioneering a New National Security: The Ethics of AI” confirming its full use of the technology.
Britain’s GCHQ spy agency championed the procurement of a high-security cloud system and it will be used by sister services MI5 and MI6, as well as other government departments such as the Ministry of Defense during joint operations, a report stated. The agreement was signed this year with AWS, Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) cloud service unit, and the data of all the agencies will be held in Britain.
Neither Amazon nor the GCHQ was willing to comment much further about the deal. It was made clear last February that Britain tracks data on sex trafficking, drug sales, and plain old agents that have been sent to spy on England’s military secrets and intellectual property of its corporations.
Earlier this month GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming told a conference the number of ransomware attacks had doubled across the UK in 2021, compared with last year, according to the FT.
“We can expect the deployment of new computing techniques, synthetic biology and other emerging technologies over the next few years,” GCHQ said in the report. “Each new development helps our economy and society grow stronger, and provides opportunities to keep us secure, but also has the potential to be misused by those who seek to do us harm.”
AI, which traces its history back to British mathematician Alan Turing’s work in the 1930s, allows modern computers to learn to sift through data to see the shadows of spies and criminals that a human brain might miss. Turning has long been considered one founder of the technology that birthed actual AI. Turing cracked Germany’s naval Enigma code during World War II. With advances in computing and the doubling of global data every two years meant it would now fully embrace AI to unmask spies and identify cyber-attacks.
The world’s biggest spy agencies in the United States, China, Russia and Europe are charging forward in technological efforts to enhance their cyber defensive and offensive capabilities.
“AI, like so many technologies, offers great promise for society, prosperity and security. Its impact on GCHQ is equally profound,” said Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ.
While AI is not yet at the science-fiction stage of competing with humans to generate revolutionary ideas such as AI itself, computer software can see patterns in data within seconds that human minds would take hundreds of years to see.
And even James Bond will have to come up with an unbreakable password to be involved with the new British AI spy tool. Oh, and 007 will not be long enough, James.
read more at reuters.com