Science & Tech

Spooks come out of shadows to issue AI warning at Silicon Valley summit-TGN

The head of MI5, Britain’s security service, has made an unprecedented public appearance alongside his counterparts from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to warn about the emerging threats posed by Artificial Intelligence.

Ken McCallum is in Silicon Valley, California, with members of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership for the first Emerging Technology and Securing Innovation Security Summit.

Speaking ahead of the summit, which brings business leaders, entrepreneurs, and academics face-to-face with the top security chiefs from five nations, Mr McCallum said: “The UK is seeing a sharp rise in aggressive attempts by other states to steal competitive advantage. It’s the same across all five of our countries.”

He will appear alongside his Five Eyes counterparts, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, in an attempt to alert companies, large and small, about the threats they face, predominantly from China.

Mr McCallum, who has been the director general of the UK’s domestic security agency since 2020, said: “The stakes are now incredibly high on emerging technologies; states which lead the way in areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology will have the power to shape all our futures.”

He warned: “We all need to be aware, and respond, before it’s too late.”

The idea behind the spooks coming out of their shadows is to attempt to improve public awareness, particularly among smaller companies who may not realise they are at risk.

The five governments released a joint five-point set of principles to help companies secure their innovation.

The five governments have released a joint five point set of principles to help companies secure their innovation.
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The five governments have released a joint five point set of principles to help companies secure their innovation.

The intelligence leaders are also expected to sit down with private sector leaders for in-depth discussions about expanding and strengthening private-public partnerships in order to better protect innovation, and the collective security of the five nations and their citizens.

FBI director Christopher Wray said: “Emerging technologies are essential to our economic and national security, and America’s role as a leading economic power, but they also present new and evolving threats.”

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Is AI an existential threat?

Australia’s Intelligence chief, Mike Burgess, added: “The Summit is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented threat.

“The fact the Five Eyes security services are gathering in Silicon Valley speaks to the nature of the threat and our collective resolve to counter it.”

The Five Eyes coalition was formed in 1946 and allows the five nations to enhance their intelligence sharing and better coordinate their domestic and international shared security.

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