In Brief
  • In a short series of tweets, Elon Musk identified the very real possibility of AI being used to cripple the internet.
  • Cyber security is a major issue facing the further development of AI systems. Development must focus on perfecting the technology as well as protecting it, and us.

Massive Hacking

The technology we’ve developed to improve human lives may be turning into a massive weapon. Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX CEO, on a short exchange in Twitter called artificial intelligence a great threat to the internet, and it’s only about time that we see a massive AI attack on internet infrastructure.

Musk’s tweets came in the backlash of an extensive Disributed Denial of Service (DDoS) hack attack last October 21 that left hundreds of sites including Netflix, PayPal, Spotify, and Twitter offline and unreachable for hours.

DDoS attacks work by using a “botnet”, or a linkage of computers that perform coordinated functions. Last months’ DDoS attacks targeted Dyn, a Domain Name Server (DNS) that maintains the directory of websites’ domain names and IP addresses, and is integral to keeping the sites up and running.

Cybersecurity authorities, for the most part, believe that it’s groups of human hackers that carry out these dangerous programs. Musk believes, though, that in the future, we may have to worry more about artificially-intelligent invaders creating chaos online.

AI Weaponry

In the tweet, Musk shared an article by The Economist discussing DDoS attacks and the danger of virtual weapons on the Internet. As AI advances further and further, hackers could soon use it to optimize attacks. Musk indicates that internet infrastructure is “particularly susceptible” to a method called gradient descent algorithm, a mathematical problem-solving process. Bad news is, AI is excellent at doing gradient descents, which can become devastating digital weaponry.

Cybersecurity is beefing up using AI, as well. But, if both sides are wielding advanced AIs, Musk says it could end up in huge online wars.

Artificial intelligence is becoming ubiquitous in our lives. It has developed medicine, transportation, computing, and even entertainment. The White House even went as far to claim that AI will ensure a better future for all. The massive technology, however, is a big stick that can help as well as harm. It’s looking like AI will keep flourishing, and it’s up to responsible scientists and common users to keep its acceleration in a path that adheres to improving lives.