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North Korea's Advancements in AI Raise Global Concerns, Reveals Report

North Korea actively developing AI and machine learning technology. Collaboration with foreign scholars, including China, observed. Signs of North Korean hackers using generative AI for reconnaissance.

A recent study has revealed that North Korea is actively developing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology for various purposes, raising concerns among experts. The country's AI initiatives reportedly cover a wide range of areas, including responding to COVID-19, safeguarding nuclear reactors, conducting wargaming simulations, and government surveillance.

According to the report authored by Hyuk Kim from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in California, North Korea's pursuit of AI development is seen as a strategic investment to strengthen its digital economy. Despite facing international sanctions related to its nuclear weapons program, the country is determined to acquire the latest AI technology.

The study, published by the 38 North project, cited open-source information such as state media and journals to gather insights into North Korea's AI activities. It revealed that some North Korean AI researchers have collaborated with foreign scholars, including those from China.

In a concerning development, Seoul's spy agency has detected signs of North Korean hackers utilizing generative AI to search for potential targets and acquire hacking technologies. However, there is no evidence yet of them using AI in actual cyberattacks. The National Intelligence Service is closely monitoring the situation.

North Korea established the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute in 2013, and in recent years, several companies within the country have been promoting commercial products featuring AI, according to the report. However, due to the authoritarian nature of the regime, communication technology remains heavily restricted and monitored.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also seen North Korea utilizing AI technology. The country used AI to develop a model for evaluating proper mask usage and prioritizing clinical symptom indicators of infection, as mentioned in the report by Kim.

Furthermore, North Korean scientists have published research on using AI to ensure the safety of nuclear reactors. This is particularly concerning given the recent findings by the U.N. nuclear watchdog and independent experts, suggesting that a new reactor at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex is operational, potentially providing a new source of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

The report highlights the challenges posed by North Korea's AI development. The country's pursuit of a wargaming simulation program using machine learning indicates its intentions to better understand operational environments against potential adversaries. Additionally, ongoing collaborations with foreign scholars raise concerns regarding the effectiveness of existing sanctions.

  • North Korea actively developing AI and machine learning technology

  • Collaboration with foreign scholars, including China, observed

  • Signs of North Korean hackers using generative AI for reconnaissance


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