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Mikko Hypponen: “The age of reality is over”

The rapid growth of AI will shift cybersecurity’s focus towards what’s real and what’s not, according to a top global thinker

When Mikko Hypponen is not heading up research at Finnish security giant WithSecure, he’s busy warning the world that we are living in a “post-reality” age.

So, what does he mean exactly? He’s referring principally to AI, of course.

You might remember the ominous 22-word-statement issued by some of the world’s top minds  warning about the existential threat that AI could pose to humanity:

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

The statement, published by the Centre for AI Safety, has been signed by the likes of Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, as well as Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio — two of the three AI researchers who won the 2018 Turing Award.

“The internet is the best thing and the worst thing that has happened in our lifetimes so far,” Hypponen said at the Sphere event in Finnish capital Helsinki, adding that “connectivity is the new electricity”.
However, the security guru – who is regularly named as one of the world’s top cyber thinkers – said today’s generation will be remembered not as the first generation that went online, but as the inventors of AI.
“The AI revolution is as big as the internet revolution, if not bigger. Very soon, it will be very difficult to discern what’s real and what’s not. This will become the overarching role of cybersecurity – assessing authenticity in a world of deep fakes.”
“Reality as we know it is over and this revolution has the power to shape the world for the better or the worse.
“We are now longer securing computers – every car and home is a data centre. Cyber teams are securing entire societies. We’re living the hottest AI summer in history and it’s going to be hard to keep up.”
Hypponen noted that the upsides of Open AI are “huge”, with the potential to eradicate poverty, solve climate change and provide universal education.
Juhani Hintikka, WithSecure president and CEO, speaking at the same event, added: “The good news is that Open AI is not open access yet. But inevitably there will be criminal groups who start accessing it.
“In our industry the most difficult adversaries are the nation states. I would imagine that Language Learning Models will be especially interesting for them in meeting their objectives.”
Both experts warned that global ransomware groups, such as LockBit, Alpha and Clop, are growing in stature and size, “building brands and reputations like real-world companies.”
Hypponen said: “In a way, they are trying to be honest criminals and, as a result, they among the first wave of cyber unicorns.”

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