International group of experts on the Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence and Challenges to International Psychological Security.

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  • 6 February 2022

The analytical report “Experts on the Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence and Challenges to International Psychological Security”, published by the International center of socio-political researches and consulting on December 2021, is dedicated to the multidimensional problem of MUAI, the awareness of which is currently being raised both in academic expertise and in a vast sphere of the public opinion. The multidimensionality of MUAI is determined by its interconnection with dynamically transforming technological trends (and, hence, reaction to innovations in ICT – both of hard – and software character) as well as by its initial ability to shape public opinion and manipulate it. Putting MUAI into the political context make researchers and analysts also take the crisis moment of the global democratic deconsolidation, socio-economic challenges provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and regional and global conflicts in which a wide range of actors are involved. Therefore, the problem of MUAI combines technological, sociological, economic and political aspects, requiring an interdisciplinary expertise. The presented report represents decent example of such an expertise. The structure of the report is determined by the paradigmal logic of classical international theories where local trends are given an impetus produced by the global structure. Nonetheless, the report avoids politically-centered reductionism, covering not only issues of power spread and political conflicts-motivated steps of malicious actors, but also technological trends. This feature is clearly reflected by the hierarchy and order of questions in the questionnaire. Specifically, the questions from 1 to 7 cover the general issues of threats to psychological security that are likely to be caused by the AI malicious exploitation, their threats for the international system and its participants currently and in a short-term prospect of 2030, global and local measures undertaken and prone to undertaking in the context of the determined threats and the role of international cooperation. The questions from 8 to 13 are dedicated to the specification of global and general trends for the North-Eastern Asia socio-political space.

The report aims to provide representativity of experts’ perspective: for this reason, the surveys of 15 specialists from 10 states were conducted and aggregated in accord with the report concept. The given circumstance gave report a bright mosaic of opinions and views; nonetheless, the cases of MUAI laying on the basis of analyses as well as estimations of trends in the North-Eastern Asia allow to compose coherent and peculiar regional-focused prognoses that is of crucial importance for the report dedicated to the AI.

Representativity and variety of perspectives are the ground for a wide panorama of capabilities possessed by MUAI to threaten the psychological security of individuals, groups, nations, and the whole of humankind. The experts revealed technical determinants (rapid development of emotional AI, the rich experience in using AI-based systems for spreading content and targeting its audience) as well as social ones (states structures motivated to increase the level of control, terrorist threats, digital divide and geopolitical conflicts) for the given phenomena. The same outcomes took place when it came to the role of international cooperation. The majority of experts supported the idea of such cooperation, although not without emphasizing institutional, normative and political obstacles for its implementation and development as well as for giving it a real ability to counter AI. However, the considerations on irrelevance of international cooperation in combating MUAI (M. Crosston) or on its blocks-formed limitations – in other words, its existence “only between countries that do not compete for the same territories, resources, or geo-political positions” (M. Vacarelu) are also presented.

As mentioned above, the prognoses, however, were quite consistent and coherent. Basically, most of the experts noted a significant or strong influence of MUAI on the growth of IPS threats today; none of the experts denied such influence. The unanimity became even more explicit when it came to the particular threshold of 2030 – for the closed-ended third question about the situation in 2030 – “How much will the malicious use of artificial intelligence increase the level of threat to international psychological security by 2030?” ten (≈53%) experts answered that MUAI would “strongly” raise threats to international IPS and nine (≈47%) answered “noticeably”.  No one pointed to an insignificant level of such a threat (“only slightly”), let alone its absence.

The emphasized conclusions require the expert and political circles to take preventive measures against negative scenarios after scrutinizing the latter. This task is also alleviated since the experts instantiated the ways to neutralize the threat to international psychological security caused by the malicious use of artificial intelligence – for example, the EU draft of AI regulations (2021) that presents a scale of prohibited, high risk, and low risk activities and imposes specific obligations on those developing and deploying AI in society, or a Code of Practice of Disinformation signed by dominant social media platforms between 2018 and 2020.

With respect to the situation in North-Eastern Asia, the estimations of both the current situation with MUAI risks and its prospects by 2030 were more pessimistic. On the question “How much will the malicious use of artificial intelligence increase the level of threat to international psychological security in Northeast Asia by 2030 six (≈32%) experts answered that MUAI would “strongly” increase threats to IPS, nine (≈47%) believed it “noticeably” would, and two (≈10%) noted that “the answer … will depend on how governments react to the trials. If they decided to go ahead with the widespread adoption of this technology, the answer would have been “significantly”.

The geography and profile of the given report is not universal – it includes only 10 states representatives as well as only 4 technical specialists. In the turn these facts reflects the real potential for international cooperation in countering MUAI. Nonetheless, the fact-based conclusions that are well-structured and fit the IR theory decently, are certain to be used in further expertise and (if possible) decision-making.

Sources: Experts on the Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence and Challenges to International Psychological Security. Report by Evgeny Pashentsev. Edition of the International Center for Social and Political Studies and Consulting. – Moscow: LLC «SAM Polygraphist», 2021. – 62 p.

We also thank to Darya Mathusheva – researcher at Sankt-Petersburg State University – for her contribution on the Artificial Intelligence Study Group (MARIUS VACARELU)

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