UK to use AI to detect foreign threats that may be overlooked by humans


New Delhi: UK’s security minister Tom Tugendhat has come up with a plan wherein the country’s intelligence services will use information compiled by artificial intelligence to help detect foreign threats that might be overlooked by humans.

Tugendhat said a new government department – the Open Source Intelligence Hub (OSINT) – will use information gathered from open sources to assist its more traditional intelligence services, MI5 and MI6.

Lessons from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine have shown how information from open sources can help identify threats, provided analysts are not swamped by data, Tugendhat said.

“Traditional spying will still lift the curtain on the plans of our enemies,” The Telegraph quoted Tugendhat as saying. “We still need to listen and look where they want to hide,” he added.

He said that “intelligence has changed” over the past decade, prompting the UK’s intelligence services to devise new methods to identify and eliminate foreign threats.

The new hub will also add “richness and detail” to existing methods of information gathering, he said.

According to the report, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will put the formal plans, which are yet to be established, in place in May.

Not spying on British public

Tugendhat stressed the new unit would not be used to spy on the British public.

“There’s a whole series of ways in which people are putting information out there,” he told The Telegraph.

“This isn’t a question of the government sucking everything in, but rather, understanding what’s already out there. Most intelligence is about shaping an argument and in a democracy that has to be done publicly.

“If you look at what we did in the run up to Ukraine, we opened up a lot of intelligence to partners around the world, but also to people in the UK…to explain what we were seeing, why we thought the build up of Russian forces was credible, why it was genuinely a threat to Ukraine and why we were taking it so seriously.

“We had to do things that intelligence agencies don’t traditionally do, which was to declassify and open up (information).

“What became obvious was that it didn’t need to be secret intelligence that was declassified.

“We need to find ways in which we can point out what’s really happening in the world, to people who need to know it. In a democracy, that means our citizens in ways that are usable,” he added.

The move comes a little more than two weeks after UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set aside £3.5 billion ($4.3 billion) in the government’s budget to fund programs in London’s science and technology sectors, which he predicted last year would transform it into a tech “superpower.”

Targeting Russian disinformation

The minister said the new unit will also target disinformation from Russia and elsewhere, fact-checking and calling out lies aimed at targeting British society.

“We’re seeing our security undermined by the attempt to tear us apart, to spread disinformation, to spread lies in our communities,” Tugendhat said.

“We see it through social media channels and we’re aware that some social media channels give control to foreign states, who could in theory use it to promote divisive or problematic campaigns that would tear us apart,” Tugendhat told The Telegraph.

With inputs from agencies

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UK to use AI to detect foreign threats that may be overlooked by humans
UK to use AI to detect foreign threats that may be overlooked by humans
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