New technologies aid fight against global terrorism


Terrorists have become skilled at manipulating the Internet and other technologies, artificial intelligence or AI, is a powerful tool in the fight against them, a top UN counter-terrorism official said at a high-level conference on strengthening international cooperation against the scourge.

Co-organised by Belarus and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), “Countering terrorism through innovative approaches and the use of new and emerging technologies” ended on Wednesday in Minsk.

The internet “expands technological boundaries literally every day” and AI, 3D printing biotechnology innovations, can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said Vladimir Voronkov, first-ever Under Secretary-General for the UN Counter-Terrorism Office.

It also provides “live video broadcasting of brutal killings”, he said, citing the attack in the New Zealand city Christchurch, where Muslim worshippers were killed by a self-avowed white supremacist.

“This is done to spread fear and split society”, the UNOCT chief said warning of more serious developments, including attempts by terrorists to build homemade biological weapons.

He pointed out terrorists use drones to deliver chemical, biological or radiological materials.

The international community is “not sitting idly by”, he said, noting developments in this area allow processing and identification of key information, which can speedily counter terrorist operations.

“The Internet content of terrorists is detected and deleted faster than eve. Fifteen to 20 minutes is enough to detect and remove content thanks to machine algorithms”.
Crediting quantum computing coupled with AI, he explained accelerated information processing enables terrorist tracing.

Voronkov said the use of blockchain registration – a growing list of records, or blocks, linked using cryptography – is being explored to identify companies and individuals responsible for financing terrorism.

“It is necessary to increase the exchange of expert knowledge on technologies such as 3D printing, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, robotics, the synthesis of the human face and autonomous weapons. This will help identify and respond to risks before it is too late.”

The two-day conference was split into themed sessions focused on global, regional and national levels of misuse of new technologies and AI by terrorists; approaches and strategies to counteract terrorist propaganda; and misuse of scientific innovations.