Ensuring Humanity’s Safety: Mikko Hyppönen Urges Strict Safeguards for AI, AGI

Mikko Hermanni Hyppönen, WithSecure’s Chief Research Officer, believes that stringent safeguards are necessary if artificial intelligence (AI) – or its more advanced counterpart artificial general intelligence (AGI) – is to serve humanity well and not lead to disaster.

“We should be passing international laws and regulations right now that would sentence people who help AI to ‘escape’ as traitors not just of their country, but of mankind,” emphasised Hyppönen.

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“We must make sure that AI systems, bots, and robots don’t get any privacy or ownership rights; they must not become wealthy, because if they become wealthy, they can bribe people. To fight deep fakes on TV and elsewhere, all media houses should publish their source material, signed with a cryptographic key on a file server. So if you suspect that this clip doesn’t look right, you could go and download the original material and make sure it is the real thing. And when we humans are interacting with machines, we should be told that this tech support person you’re speaking with is actually not a person at all.”

Most importantly, Hyppönen stressed, when humans give missions and tasks to advanced frameworks, the systems must be made to understand that the most important thing for humanity is that it can still switch them off.

“It’s more important that I can switch you (the AI) off than for you to complete your mission. Because we like to think we control the things we built; this is the one thing we will not be able to control. introducing a superior legend into your own biosphere sounds like an evolutionary mistake; we can only cross this line once, and we must get it right.”

Hyppönen shared his thoughts on AI at WithSecure’s recent SPHERE cybersecurity conference held in Helsinki, Finland. During his session, Hyppönen outlined the various advancements that had been made in the field, including AI-generated music, artwork, and even video, well as some of the potential pitfalls of the technology, including deepfakes for the purposes of monetary gain.

“I recently needed a picture of a network operations centre for my slide deck, so I asked Midjourney to generate one for me, which it did. And I adjusted it – ‘could you make it a little bit more blue? Can you add more screens?’ – and it does it. Why would I buy this from a stock photos site when I get it for free immediately, in great quality, with exactly the properties I want?”

“We have ways of making the current generation of AIS to do the things it doesn’t want to do. ChatGPT doesn’t want to do bad things or help you break the law. If you asked ChatGPT how to make napalm, it will refuse to do it. But you can jailbreak it. Jailbreaks show the current limitations and if we can’t limit even the current state of these systems, how do we hope to limit the future technologies?”

Hyppönen admitted that the technology was moving faster than he had anticipated. (Pic credit: Calebe Simões via Wikimedia Commons)

“The world around us is changing very quickly. These transformative new technologies are bringing us things we didn’t believe could be done by machines – it reminds me of Douglas Adams’s ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The ‘guide’ in the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ that Mr. Adams described, that’s what we have in our pockets today; a handheld device with connection to the Internet and access to ChatGPT which knows everything.

“In my book which released in August [2022], I said that our generations will be remembered forever in history books as the first generation which got online, and now mankind will be online forever. But now, I’m not so sure. I do believe that the AI revolution will be bigger than the Internet revolution. And if that’s true, then we will not be remembered as the first generation who got online; but as the first generation which gained access to artificial intelligence.”

If anybody was to progress in creating AGIs, Hyppönen would prefer it to be a company like OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, due to the founders’ self-knowledge and ideals.

“They pledge that if they see that a competitor of theirs seems to be getting to AGI first, they will stop their work and instead assist the competitor to make sure they get there safely, because they believe a race would be dangerous. The reason why they released ChatGPT fairly early was to get regulators running because they want to be regulated; they understand that these risks are very real, and governments want to regulate it. It’s a capped profit company owned by a non-profit, which means money doesn’t override safety. The non-profit can override all the other shareholders. The biggest shareholder is Microsoft, which doesn’t have a seat in the board of OpenAI.”

The benefits from advanced AI or AGI are myriad, Hyppönen noted. “If we get to Artificial General Intelligence safely and securely, then AGI could cure cancer. It could also fix the climate and poverty, bring universal basic income for the whole planet. And yes, make us interplanetary. This is what AGI could bring us if everything goes right.”

WithSecure was formerly the enterprise business of F-Secure Corporation. The SPHERE conference was billed as a ‘one-of-a-kind event which transcends walls and boundaries and welcomes ideas, open communication, and collaboration. For WithSecure, it’s a place where cybersecurity pros and heroes join forces to make the digital world a safer, more open and fearless place for businesses, people and humanity.’

The company’s President and CEO Juhani Hintikka was reportedly in Malaysia earlier this year as part of an Asia-Pacific (APAC) high-level business trip together with Regional Director Yong Meng Hong.

He reportedly expressed WithSecure’s focus on ‘outcome-based cybersecurity’. This focus is essentially about aligning cybersecurity with clients’ overall business goals of their clients. For example, in the manufacturing industry, where uptime is crucial, WithSecure ensures that uptime targets are met without compromising security. By integrating cybersecurity measures that support business objectives, they provide a holistic and effective approach, Hintikka reportedly told media.

This innovative approach has earned WithSecure a strong reputation and a significant global market share since its launch last year. The company’s success is attributed to its ability to address complex cybersecurity issues through collaboration and a keen understanding of their clients’ business priorities, coupled with international thought leaders and cybersecurity visionaries like Mikko Hyppönen.

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