Jan. 20 (UPI) — FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed dire concerns about China’s rising artificial intelligence program and also warned of the increasing threat from cyberattacks like those launched from Russia at the outset of the Ukraine war nearly one year ago.
Wray spoke Thursday during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he expounded on emerging global threats such as ransomware, cyberattacks, and economic espionage, which have been increasingly carried out by hostile nation-states.
“We did see, as the conflict erupted and increased, effort by the Russian intelligence services — which have been conducting malicious cyber activity against U.S. infrastructure for years,” Wray told the gathering of business, government, and law enforcement leaders.
During the talk, Wray also accused China of using stolen data to advance its ability to plunder secrets from nations around the world, while specifically targeting its main archrival, the United States.
“The Chinese government has a bigger hacking program than any other nation in the world,” Wray said, according to a statement released Thursday by the FBI. “And their AI program is not constrained by the rule of law and is built on top of massive troves of intellectual property and sensitive data that they’ve stolen over the years.”
Wray suggested more should be done to put a check on China’s “hacking program,” which was being used “to advance the repression that occurs not just back home in mainland China but increasingly as a product that they export around the world.”
China has previously dismissed criticism about its artificial intelligence efforts, claiming the country’s advances in the field were being used only for peaceful purposes.
Right now AI technology is still in its infancy but is being rapidly developed. It is widely known that AI technology has been increasingly exposed to hacking on popular smart devices such as the Amazon Echo to listen in on private conversations.
Wray said that the threat of China being allowed to further develop its AI technology is something the FBI is “deeply concerned about.”
“AI is a classic example of a technology where I have the same reaction every time: I think, ‘Wow, we can do that?’ And then I thing, ‘Oh god, they can do that,'” Wray told the panel.
Earlier this week, Wray also appeared at the conference via video feed and spoke about the FBI’s ongoing work with government and private partners to tackle these and other threats.
The World Economic Forum is due to wrap up after a week of talks aimed at addressing some of the most pressing issues facing humanity, such as climate change and natural disasters, wars, terrorist attacks, pandemic, and cybercrime — all which are serving to reshape the geopolitical landscape of the early 21st century.