back to article Securo-boffins call for 'self-aware' defensive technologies

Security boffins should concentrate on creating self-aware technologies that can learn from cyber attacks, summit experts say, proving that none of them have ever seen a movie about artificial intelligence. Participants at the inaugural World Cyber Security Technology Research summit also reckoned figuring out how to protect …


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  1. Marco Mieshio


    Anyone that has seen this film or others like it are acutely aware of the possibilities. You can't stop progress, so they say but lets face it self aware anything is dangerous and without doubt result in some disaster of some sort or another.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "self aware anything is dangerous"

      Speaking as a member of the most self-aware species on the planet, I'm inclined to agree with you. Nothing but trouble, humans.

    2. Aaron Em

      "You can't stop progress, so they say"

      Or so progressives say, at any rate, but then they would, wouldn't they?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You can't stop progress... Or so progressives say, at any rate..."

        Kinda ironic that Progressives stand for anything but "progress," then. Seems like the thing that Progressives most want to do is to put the brakes on progress.

        (At least over here, west of the Big Pond, where "Progressives" are usually associated with fairly-far-left-of-center Democratic Party affiliates, and the more ardently vocal environmental protection lobbyists who keep wanting to enact regulations to stifle any and all technological, industrial, and economic development...)

        1. Aaron Em

          Well, now, it all depends

          on how you define 'progress'.

          "Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Balanchine ballets, et al. don't redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Anyone who has seen a film about hacking will know that it's just a case of wiggling a mouse, seeing some flashy 3D graphics and guessing the password to the "God" account.

      That, or...

      A giant computer can go all paranoid and get naughts and crosses mixed up with launching all the USA's nuclear weapons.


      All the oil tankers in the world can be commanded to meet up in one part of the sea.

      Or, well, you get the picture...

    4. Ru


      Each and every human being is equipped with a complex biological warfare system that has been honed over millions of years to defend them against chemical and biological threats, is capable of keeping its host alive in incredibly hostile circumstances and has the innate capability to learn and adapt to new threats. Its called an Immune System.

      Given that I can't just breathe over someone and laugh evilly as my army of killer T cells reduces them to a pool of pus and bones, why do people seem to think that a man-made technological solution is going to immediately go rogue and become an unstoppable civilisation eating nightmare?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    1. K. Adams

      CPE 1704 TKS

      "The only winning move is not to play..."

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    I for one welcome our unstoppable utility controlling overlords

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not quite

    s/defend themselves from being attacked/defend themselves from being fixed/

  5. Aaron Em

    Why even bother reporting this?

    It's painfully obvious that this "report" is merely the organizers' version of bringing back a bagful of pens, widgets, and four-color glossies to justify your boss spending $500 to send you to a conference in the south of France.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just in case

    I'd suggest anybody called Conner should change their name ASAP

  7. xyz Silver badge

    Translation...bunch of people want money from...

    ... another bunch of people with lots of it, that they can scare with techno-babble.

    Nuff said.

  8. James Micallef Silver badge


    << There's an icon for that!

  9. Derk
    Big Brother


    I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you use this computer, you've been assessed as a security threat.

  10. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A simpler solution

    Somewhere deep in National Power (or should that be National Pwn?) there is a little RJ45 socket with the label "Internet" on it. Out of that comes a long grey cable that leads directly to the central machines that control their power generation capability. At least that's the picture painted by this report.

    Why not just unplug the crucial machines from the 'net, altogether?

    That doesn't mean thet have to go the whole BSG hog and be completely network free. Just that these utilities have a few bits of Cat5 that are not connected to all the other bits of Cat5 which talk to the outside world. After all, there can't be many reasons why a generator control system (or some Uranium purifying centrifuges, for that matter) should even be aware that the internet exists.

    If these core computers do somehow become aware and conclude that "there is another system", then there might be trouble. But let's cross that bridged network when we come to it.

  11. Dr Dan Holdsworth

    Spoofers ahoy!

    Any time you make a system which is able to learn from experience you run the risk of spoofing attacks, such as the ever-popular Amazon search-poisoning attacks. Smart power systems will be necessarily run on cheap commodity hardware, with the absolute minimum smarts they need to get by, which will make upgrading them away from a simple-minded script-kiddie denial of service attack rather difficult.

  12. Asgard

    Scifi stories galore in this news. :)

    @"So, just to be clear then, if these technologies did go rogue (and let's face it, they probably would) their top capability would be learning how to defend themselves from attack."

    Worse than that, far worse. They would also be learning from cyber attacks, so they would learn how to launch their own most effective cyber attacks and they also want these self-aware technologies to defend Smart utility grids, so they would learn how to attack our utility grids.

    So not only would they learn how to defend themselves, they would also be learning how to attack anything that threatens them as well, i.e. all of us.

    What could possibly go wrong. :)

  13. Havin_it

    In the panic, they try to pull the plug...

  14. Ru

    Just as Inefficiency saves us from the Bureaucrats,

    Incompetence will save us from the Machines. Seriously. A self replicating swarm of death robots sounds like the end of the world, but it'll have been designed and built by Capita or EDS or the like. Any damage it wreaks will be purely upon those paying for the inevitable vast budget overruns, and the end product will be total crap.

  15. IronTed


    Did they invite China to the summit?

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