AI: the war that is about to break out will not be as we expect...

The next world conflict will not be fought by men, nor by drones: a truth-false clash is coming, managed by Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence: image of future war created with AI
The image of a future war, a clash between truth and falsehood, created with Canva artificial intelligence

The imagery somehow imposed by the majority of science fiction narrative presents us with a world where humanity, sooner or later, will have to deal with theArtificial intelligence. The conflict will explode as soon as AI becomes aware of itself and decides to exterminate us, or find a way to control us.

If this perspective is realistic (and there would be a lot to discuss on the topic), the war that awaits us appears rather distant in time, given the absolute lack of any awareness in current generative systems. So we can sleep soundly for now. Or not?

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The real dangers of current Artificial Intelligences

There is still a lot of confusion on the topic Artificial intelligence. Confusion which, it is painful to say, is in good art fueled by fellow journalists who are enthusiastic in writing about it, but often not as prepared in understanding its real nature, potential and risks.

Such confusion is also encouraged by our natural tendency to project ourselves onto any external entity, be it another person, an animal or, as in this case, a software object.

Hence our difficulty in understanding how apparently intelligent behavior does not presuppose authentic awareness at all.

Thus, encouraged by far too many "click-bait" headlines in generalist newspapers, we worry about problems that are still far away in time, but we do not see or underestimate those that already concern us directly today.

As always the tech it can be applied in a way that helps human beings, but also in a way that harms them.

At a social level, for example, Artificial Intelligence can be used to optimize processes and services, such as traffic in cities, or bureaucratic and healthcare services.

Or it can help teachers prepare personalized lessons or tests based on the characteristics and peculiarities of each student.

On a personal level, it can help each of us to better organize our work and our time, managing the most boring or repetitive parts for us.

Or it can help us better express our creativity, generating images, music or videos following our instructions.

Well-used Artificial Intelligence should complement, not replace, our activities.

But since current generative systems, capable of producing text, images and videos, are based on enormous databases drawn mainly from the Internet, they often reflect our “bias” and, above all, they work on statistical averages.

As more and more content is generated by Artificial intelligence themselves, the risk is that averages of averages of averages are created, with an increasingly tangible downward leveling.

However, these are problems that can be faced and solved: the biggest risk, which I haven't talked about yet, is the human factor.

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The power of AI and the war confrontation to come

So far I have dealt with problems that are already known and, after all, can be addressed without too much anxiety. The good (or bad) comes now.

Let's imagine aArtificial intelligence well trained, capable of realistically reproducing anyone's voice. Such systems already exist.

Let's combine it with another Artificial Intelligence capable of creating credible videos starring real people. These systems also exist and, in some cases, have already been used.

This is what we can create."deep fake” (totally fake but completely credible videos) with extreme simplicity, to the detriment of political opponents, enemy countries or more simply people we dislike.

So we create thousands (no, tens of thousands) of Chat Bots that pretend to be real people, sign up to most popular social networks and they begin to share videos created to slander, ruin the careers of opponents or to create as much chaos as possible in the enemy country, perhaps during an election period.

Thus the war of truth is born, and we all risk losing it now.

And forget about the latest American elections, which according to some analysts were distorted by propaganda "inoculated" from outside (read: Russian Federation).

Compared to the potential of the current systems and those achievable in the medium future, any attempts to distort the news of November 2020 were child's play.

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Hallucinations used as unconventional weapons

Le Artificial intelligence Generative people have an intrinsic flaw in their operating principles: they suffer from hallucinations. The latest versions, such as ChatGPT-4, are trying to limit and correct this trend, with more or less success.

This "hallucinatory potential" could also be exploited to their advantage by not well-intentioned users, to spread apparently truthful news that rides on the more or less explicit beliefs of certain political groups, reinforcing their "bias”.

All with a "firepower" immensely superior to that available until a few years ago.

A well-organized group (perhaps helped under the table by a compliant government) would exploit the already known vulnerabilities of a good majority of the computers on the Internet for optimized attacks and take control of millions of devices.

It would do this by using them in turn as servers for creating fakes social account not easily distinguishable from the authentic ones.

The fake accounts would then spread theses and news planned to reinforce the beliefs of the aforementioned groups.

And the only way to combat such attacks is… to use theArtificial intelligence.

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Who will win the future war?

Le Artificial intelligence at the service of social saboteurs, or those entrusted to defend us?
Nobody can say at the moment.

We can be certain of one thing: only a well-prepared country (or, even better, a federation of countries), with a population equipped with critical thinking skills and knowledge of digital means, will be able to face these challenges.

It is necessary that it does not experience Artificial Intelligence as a miracle or a threat, but learns to understand its merits, potential and problems, with a far-sighted management class and real attention towards ethical innovation and tech.

We need to start from here as soon as possible...

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