Stuxnet: The Next Generation
by Thomas Harter
A new and bizarre twist in warfare ,an AI race, that could result in planet-wide destruction has invaded cyberspace. The Pentagon and Israel developed the “Stuxnet” virus, which was used to take out an Iranian nuclear fuel processing plant and has since been leaked onto the Internet. Anonymous has announced that they have the “Fawkes” virus, and warns that they are able to take over computers and turn them against their enemies. In New York City, two skyscrapers are being filled with controllers for Wall Street's bid at control of financial algorithms. China has advanced hacker capabilities that could take down the US Defense Department. Although British commentators say that the UK is behind in the race for cyber supremacy, that may be a feint. Meanwhile, as a countermeasure to these and other security threats, the US. Congress is debating an Internet “kill” switch. A similar kill switch was deployed in the Egyptian rebellion, although human ingenuity was able to hack around it.
In spite of all the Internet allusions, the full extent of current international capabilities for cyber warfare is still an unknown. However, the quest for artificial intelligence is the ultimate goal that everyone is seeking, and that one or more may have already found. Stuxnet provides prima facie evidence that the programming capability for AI exists, while the mathematical threshold for hosting AI has also been crossed. In other words, the brain is now big enough and the program is complex enough. So, if AI does not already exist, the potentialities are sufficient for its existence. Since that existence need not take a form we recognize for its capabilities to be exploited, actions could already be taking place behind the scenes that we would not even be aware of until the results are visible. At that point, it could be too late.
There are three possibilities where the first true artificially intelligent “being” is concerned. It could be a slave, if, for instance, it is programmed by the Defense Department and used for its aims. Or it could have dominion over humanity, because it could connect and control all the computer processes around the world. Or, the third option, the world's first artificially intelligent being, rather than a slave or a slave master, could be a collaborator and a liberator. This is my hope: a chance, which may seem slim with all the forces arrayed against it, for us to work along side this emergent being, for the betterment of the planet.