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Thursday, February 15, 2024

UK spy chief warns China, Russia racing to master AI

The chief of Britain's foreign spy service warned on Tuesday (Nov 30) that the West's adversaries such as China and Russia were racing to master artificial intelligence in a way that could revolutionize geopolitics over the next decade.

China and Russia, according to the head of UK’s foreign spy agency, are accelerating their efforts to master artificial intelligence and this might transform geopolitics over the next decade.

Extracts from the speech, released by the British government in advance, suggest that Richard Moore, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, will talk about quantum engineering, engineered biology, and advances in computer power, and how they present a threat that needs to be addressed by the West.

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“Our adversaries are pouring money and ambition into mastering artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology because they know that mastering these technologies will give them leverage,” Moore, who rarely surfaces for speeches, will say on Tuesday.

According to Moore, who became MI6 chief in 2020, technological progress over the next decade will outpace every technological advance made in the last century.

“As a society, we have yet to internalise this stark fact and its potential impact on global geopolitics. But it is a white-hot focus for MI6,” he said.

The Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, which have harnessed a wide range of sophisticated technologies at a faster rate than Western intelligence agencies, are of particular concern to the West’s spies.

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West’s concerns

The West is concerned that Beijing will dominate all emerging technologies within decades, including artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and genetics.

Along with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 which ended the Cold War, the rise of China’s economy and military over the past 40 years is considered one of the most significant geopolitical events of the 21st century.

MI6, which has been portrayed by novelists as the employer of some of the most memorable fictional spies, from John le Carré’s George Smiley to Ian Fleming’s James Bond, operates overseas and is responsible for defending the United Kingdom, & its interests.

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Adapting to new technology will require a change in the service, Moore said.

“We cannot hope to replicate the global tech industry, so we must tap into it,” he will say. “We must become more open, to stay secret.”


Reuters with additional input by GVS