Community of ethical hackers needed to prevent AI’s looming ‘crisis of trust’


A global hacker “red team” and rewards for hunting algorithmic biases are just some of the recommendations from experts who argue that AI faces a “tech-lash” unless firm measures are taken to increase public trust.

The Artificial Intelligence industry should create a global community of hackers and “threat modellers” dedicated to stress-testing the harm potential of new AI products in order to earn the trust of governments and the public before it’s too late.

This is one of the recommendations made by an international team of risk and machine-learning experts, led by researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), who have authored a new “call to action” published in the journal Science.

They say that companies building intelligent technologies should harness techniques such as “red team” hacking, audit trails and “bias bounties” – paying out rewards for revealing ethical flaws – to prove their integrity before releasing AI for use on the wider public.   

Otherwise, the industry faces a “crisis of trust” in the systems that increasingly underpin our society, as public concern continues to mount over everything from driverless cars and autonomous drones to secret social media algorithms that spread misinformation and provoke political turmoil.

The novelty and “black box” nature of AI systems, and ferocious competition in the race to the marketplace, has hindered development and adoption of auditing or third party analysis, according to lead author Dr Shahar Avin of CSER. 

The experts argue that incentives to increase trustworthiness should not be limited to regulation, but must also come from within an industry yet to fully comprehend that public trust is vital for its own future – and trust is fraying.    

The new publication puts forward a series of “concrete” measures that they say should be adopted by AI developers.

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Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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