Tech & Science

China, Russia could target Canada’s AI sector, spy agency warns – National

Canadian intelligence agencies have warned that adversaries will turn to espionage and foreign interference tactics to target the country’s increasingly important artificial intelligence sector.

In a newly released analysis brief, the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency said countries, including China and Russia, are seeking to “use Canada’s AI through all available means,” from state-sponsored investments to the use of covert operatives. Pursue,” he said.

An analysis by the Intelligence Assessment Division of the spy agency, marked CSIS Eyes Only, was completed in July 2021, but in response to a request for access to the information filed in October of that year, the Canadian press Recently released.

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This is the latest signal from intelligence agencies that Canada’s technological innovation and resulting economic progress are vulnerable to foreign powers seeking to exploit or steal valuable research.

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CSIS believes new artificial intelligence capabilities and machine learning tools will help reduce plastic in our oceans, find vaccines to treat the next looming pandemic, stem climate change-causing emissions, and create safer vehicles for self-driving cars. It states that it is seen as the key to developing methods of finding navigation methods. car.

Artificial intelligence is a priority for Canada and seen central to Ottawa’s domestic innovation and prosperity goals, according to the analysis.

“However, many other countries, including hostile state actors, have established their own national AI strategies and goals,” Brief said. “Some of these countries, especially China and Russia, will resort to espionage and foreign-influenced activities to advance their national interests at the expense of Canada.”

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As a result, artificial intelligence has been reflected in federal intelligence priorities for several years, CSIS said.

We see that Canada faces two main types of threats related to artificial intelligence.

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First, attempts to access proprietary AI technology and know-how through trade (such as exports and reverse engineering), state-sponsored foreign investment, joint ventures (including technology transfer), cyber espionage, and espionage. involves espionage and foreign interference in , insider threats, talent discovery and recruitment.

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“Many of these efforts target Canadian academia and vulnerable start-ups, which are responsible for much of our Al innovation, but also a tolerant espionage environment.”

The second threat concerns the safety and security risks to individual Canadians and national armed forces should adversaries acquire and use AI capabilities for intelligence or military purposes.

Aaron Shull, managing director and general counsel for the Center for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario, agrees with CSIS’ assessment, but said it goes further.

Schul said other foreign threats in this space include AI-powered cyberattacks that quickly find gaps in computer code, the use of facial recognition and surveillance by authoritarian regimes, and automated threats that spread disinformation in cyberspace. bots, and reliance on partially controlled international supply chains. enemy.

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“I think we need to overhaul our national security and intelligence capabilities and services, our legislative structure, and take a more strategic view in terms of where we want our country to be in 20 years,” Schul said. interview.

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Canada can then make the necessary investments and legal changes to get there, he said.

“Other nations are raising their elbows and trying to take what is ours.”

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CSIS said the importance of protecting Canada’s artificial intelligence and the big data that underpins it goes beyond simply protecting the privacy of its citizens, stating that “adversaries who seek to leverage their capabilities against us This includes protecting the future of our country from the actions of malicious state actors.”

The brief emphasized the importance of big data for artificial intelligence, stating that the more data a country owns, the more data it can feed its AI systems, accelerating their capacity to They say they can make better decisions faster and stay ahead of the competition.

“This determines the winners in the modern world,” Brief said.

“All nations will find themselves on a grid that ranges from ignorance to dominance based on the amount of data they hold and the speed at which they process it.”

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According to CSIS, the West faces a “threat of increasing authoritarian control of the Internet” by Beijing.

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“In addition, China has acres of data centers that store data obtained legally or illegally from around the world. It will be something,” the brief adds.

“We can confidently say that this will give China the upper hand in the aluminum industry and subsequent decisions.”

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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