The Future Is Now

For the past couple of decades, the trend in technological development has been toward maximizing the capacities of computers and machines to do tasks that people would rather not do, or at least ones that machines could do cheaper. In an interview with Raconteur, chief strategy and innovation officer for The Future Laboratory Tracey Fellows predicts that 35 percent of jobs currently done by humans could be taken over by robots one day, and those would include jobs that are either tedious or dangerous, saving innumerable hours and lives.

The landmark achievement of the 21st century is, arguably, artificial intelligence (AI). With the writing of some strings of code, machines can now perceive their environment, process relevant information, and execute actions that provide the highest probability of success. Further innovations in artificial intelligence are often driven by the elimination of human error in day-to-day tasks (e.g., self-driving cars).

The increasing reliance on AI, however, comes with considerable risks. Artificial intelligence, whatever form it may take, is run by a specific set of commands. This renders it vulnerable to hacking and many other forms of attack and manipulation, and in that same interview, Fellow also predicts that "by 2040, more crime will be committed by machines than by humans."

Rise of the machines

While most machines powered by AI are programmed to do specific jobs, these technological wonders could also be commanded to learn. Exceptionally powerful programs could be wired to learn how to bypass security measures and wreak havoc with classified information, GPS telemetry, sensor input, etc.

What's more problematic is that this coincides with the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) — the presence of the internet in day-to-day living. With more devices being retooled to facilitate easier living, we are surrounding ourselves with more ways to be victimized by cyber crime.

Thankfully, this grim future isn't unavoidable. Ex-FBI-counter-terrorism operative and present Carbon Black national security strategist Eric O'Neill is confident that, with so much at stake, companies invested in the Internet of Things will act way before an attack even happens, preempting possible hacks or security breaches.

He says, "As the good guys become more active in remediating threats before hackers launch their attacks, espionage and digital fraud will become far less economically beneficial for the bad guys, giving us a far better chance of keeping them out.”

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