MI6 chief: Human spies even more important in age of AI

MI6 chief to say there will be ‘even greater value in landing the secrets that lie beyond the reach’ of AI

Kim Sengupta
Wednesday 19 July 2023 08:20 BST
MI6 chief Sir Richard Moore
MI6 chief Sir Richard Moore (PA Archive)

The human factor has become of crucial importance in the intelligence field with the development of AI and other technological advances, the head of MI6 is set to say.

Western security officials have warned of adversary states as well as extremist organisations manipulating sophisticated science to carry out attacks and undermine democratic institutions.

In what will be his second public speech in the role, Sir Richard Moore will stress on Wednesday that AI will not put him and other spies out of business. There is a need for extensive human oversight over technology to ensure public safety, he will say.

Sir Richard is expected to say in a speech in Prague: “AI is going to make information infinitely more accessible and some have asked whether it will put intelligence services like mine out of business. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true.

“As AI trawls the ocean of open source, there will be even greater value in landing, with a well-cast fly, the secrets that lie beyond the reach of its nets.

“The unique characteristics of human agents in the right places will become still more significant. They are never just passive collectors of information: our agents can be tasked and directed; they can identify new questions we didn’t know to ask; and sometimes they can influence decisions inside a government or terrorist group.

“Human intelligence in the age of Artificial Intelligence will increasingly be defined as those things that machines cannot do, albeit we should expect the frontier of machine capability to advance with startling speed.”

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