It’s the wacky week in AI
Roundup Your weekly dose of tidbits from the AI world, beyond everything we’ve already covered, begins with a senate committee hearing where a US lieutenant general, currently a nominee for the role of the director of the NSA, speaking about his concerns around the technology. And ends with a CEO of a Chinese AI startup demonstrating how AI can be used to perform a faceswap on Trump and Obama.
Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone, currently the commander of the United States Army Cyber Command, was quizzed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) about his thoughts on AI.
The Senate Committee on Armed Services was considering the nomination of Nakasone for the role of director of the NSA, as well as Dr Brent Park to be deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for the National Nuclear Security Administration, and Anne White to be assistant secretary of energy for environmental management for the department of energy.
Senator Cruz brought up the idea of poisoning systems with adversarial examples, something that was discussed during the first congressional hearing on AI he chaired last year.
Cyberterrorism in the future will not occur by DDoSing or “bringing the system down”, Cruz said. “But far more subtly, simply changing the data in the big data datasets so that the AI algorithms reach the wrong results”.
Adversarial machine learning is a big area of study in research, which has shown that these systems are shockingly brittle. Fuzzing a few pixels here and there can fool convolutional neural nets.
Nakasone agreed and called data “the coin of the realm”. He didn’t really address the problem of adversarial examples, but did talk about the need to verify any changes to the organization’s code.
“So Senator, previously we thought of only securing out networks. And what we’ve certainly learned is the fact that securing our data, which I’d say is ‘the coin of the realm,’” he said.
“Our data is critical. Think of the dangers that are posed of our data is manipulated, whether or not it’s in our financial, our health, our national defence records – it’s very, very critical for what we are doing. But also think of the security for our weapon systems that go with it. The code that underlines our platforms, the code that underlines the critical capabilities that our army, navy, airforce, and marines rely on.”
“In terms of what must be done, I would offer that we have to think more broadly on term of defense and depth strategies as we look to the future. You highlighted the challenges of AI. Just as critical as AI might be for a terrorist, it’s critical for us to verify code.”
“To be able to have the capability to verify the integrity of our data. And so I do see this as one of the areas that both has tremendous positive impacts for our nation and one that we must be able to understand the limitations and the consequences as well.”
Another interesting question Cruz asked the lieutenant general was about how the NSA can compete with Silicon Valley for AI talent. There aren’t that many devs around with a specialized background in machine learning to fill the many roles created by the current hype.