By Judith Mendes (Queensland University of Technology)

The era of digital transformation is among us. Technology has become the foundation of our lives. As the timeline of the technology revolution continues, it is up to us whether we want that foundation to be a strong and solid base to innovate upon or a fast-paced industry that only offers the illusion of control. 

Hardware began in the timeline of the technology revolution, progressing to software and at present Artificial Intelligence (AI). The question develops – is the future of artificial intelligence as promising as it is dangerous? 

Alpha Zero, a chess-playing AI program created by DeepMind, is both a remarkable and a confronting display of exponential machine-learning technology. In just four hours, the program not only taught itself chess, but taught itself how to beat the best chess players with moves seemingly unthinkable to a human player. 

As the promising capabilities of AI grows, so does the capabilities of the cybercriminal community. Evolving from the Morris Worm to complex ransomware, organized cybercrime has also been a display of the exponential potential that technology can offer. The first wave of cyber threats in the early 1990’s presented dangers such as Trojan, malicious code, botnets and phishing. The present third wave produces more complex attacks through banking malware, phone hijacking, cyber warfare and identity theft. Humans are no longer behind the keyboard of these crimes, with the ability of cyber attackers embracing AI. 

How do we ensure humans remain in control after artificial intelligence has surpassed human intelligence? One of the answers, according to Dudu Mimran, the Chief Technology Officer of Telekom Innovation Laboratories and the Cyber Security Research Centre at Ben-Gurion University, is global technology-driven governance. AI can help us as an extension of humans to create efficient governance and enforcement.  Humans must drive the development of AI to combat the attacks of AI and use this to produce enforcement necessary to protect against the sophistication and speed of attacks.    

The future of AI is both promising and dangerous. As we see a rise in innovation and creativity for the common good, we see that same rise in the cybercriminal community. This is a space that is continually growing, evolving and changing. Watch this space.