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  • Voltaire Staff

North Korea's artificial intelligence development rings alarm bells

North Korea is reportedly developing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities with potential to enhance its wargaming chops and bolster its military strength.

The claim made by a California-based think-tank has sent alarm bells ringing in certain sectors.

The development comes against the backdrop of longstanding international sanctions imposed against North Korea, stemming from its nuclear weapons programme, as well as recent AI threats such as deepfake.

As reported by Reuters on Wednesday, the nation's efforts in this realm extend beyond mere technological progress, encompassing diverse applications and bolstering government surveillance.

"North Korea’s recent endeavours in AI/ML development signify a strategic investment to bolster its digital economy," wrote Hyuk Kim in a report published by James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in California.

The report released on Tuesday by the 38 North project, draws upon publicly accessible sources, including state media and journals.

It sheds light on instances where AI researchers from North Korea collaborated with scholars on a global scale, particularly those affiliated with China. There also seems to be an establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute by North Korea in 2013.

More importantly, the document noted that North Korean scientists have delved into AI research aimed at enhancing the safety protocols of nuclear reactors.

Seoul's intelligence agency reported indications of North Korean hackers employing generative AI to identify potential targets and acquire the necessary technologies for hacking. However, there is no evidence suggesting the actual deployment of this technology in cyberattacks so far.

Kim wrote, "For instance, North Korea’s pursuit of a wargaming simulation program using (machine learning) reveals intentions to better comprehend operational environments against potential adversaries."

Last month, both independent experts and the United Nations nuclear regulators asserted that a recently constructed reactor inside North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex seems to be in operational status for the first time.

The development implies the emergence of an additional potential source of plutonium, raising concerns about its potential use in the development of nuclear weapons.




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