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Experts warn AI threatens privacy and data breach, not just job loss

8 May 2023 By ANIRBAN RAY

Muscat – The threat to mankind from artificial intelligence (AI) has become a much-discussed topic. Besides the widely perceived threat to jobs and decadence in original content, another intimidating factor is that of compromise of privacy.

IT expert Tariq Hilal al Barwani describes the situation akin to re-creating a real Terminator from the reel Terminator. “The time is not far when man will indeed be fighting back machines – and AI – in a cruel battle. Artificial intelligence will be impacting our daily lives in unprecedented ways.”

Barwani warns that the increased threat to privacy will be evident to all soon. As AI collects and stores vast amounts of personal information, there is risk of cybercriminals accessing this information and using it for malicious purposes.

“Additionally, there is risk of government surveillance, as AI can monitor and track individuals with excellent accuracy.”

Explaining the process, Barwani said that AI websites collect large amounts of data available on the Internet and provide it to those seeking it. “A lot of personal information is stored in the cloud. In sheer innocence, we have provided our phone numbers, address, DOB and other critical information, which are used now in a manner of theft. Cybercriminals can use this information for identity theft, financial fraud and even blackmail. With AI, attacks have the potential of becoming much more sophisticated,” he said.

ChatGPT has opened the door to multiple AI options – Midjourney, DALLE2, Bard, Bing AI and the much talked about Adobe Firefly. Hundreds of new AI software are being launched in the market every other day. Ramesh Babu, another IT expert working with malware, digital currency and CCTV, said, “AI-based surveillance systems are becoming increasingly popular. These systems use facial recognition technology and other AI tools to track individuals’ movements, activities and even thoughts.”

It is these monitoring capabilities of AI that raise concerns about the loss of individual freedom and privacy.

For Muscat-based filmmaker Mohammd Khalfan, the biggest threat to image generation comes from deep fake. “One can easily create an image of a person fighting some war and frame him. Though such AI needs expertise, we must remember that current developments are in beta stage.”

Khalfan describes the latest advancements in AI as “bliss and curse to all”.

“It will surely take away jobs for the inefficient and lazy, but for others, it will be very helpful – like an excellent assistant to hard-working people. For the latter, it will be more of a tool, like a camera or filter, to make the output much better.”

One advice common to all from experts in the field is the need to limit providing personal information and pictures on the Internet. It’s the only safeguard as of now.

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