What If Generative AI Destroys Biometric Security?

Our podcast on science and technology. This week, we explore the rise of biometric authentication systems—and examine what would happen if hackers who use generative AI were to compromise digital security

Listen to the Audio on Economist.com

RECENT YEARS have seen a boom in biometric security systems—identification measures based on a person’s individual biology—from unlocking smartphones, to automating border controls. As this technology becomes more prevalent, some cybersecurity researchers are worried about how secure biometric data is—and the risk of spoofs. If generative AI becomes so powerful and easy-to-use that deepfake audio and video could hack into our security systems, what can be done?

Bruce Schneier, a security technologist at Harvard University and the author of “A Hacker’s Mind”, explores the cybersecurity risks associated with biometrics, and Matthias Marx, a security researcher, discusses the consequences of bad actors obtaining personal data. If artificial intelligence could overcome security systems, human implants may be used as authentication, according to Katina Michael, a professor at Arizona State University. Plus, Joseph Lindley, a design academic at Lancaster University, proposes how security systems can be better designed to avoid vulnerabilities. To think about practical solutions, Scott Shapiro, professor at Yale Law School and author of “Fancy Bear Goes Phishing”, puts generative AI into the wider context of cybersecurity. Finally, Tim Cross, The Economist’s deputy science editor, weighs up the real-world implications of our thought experiment. Kenneth Cukier hosts. Runtime: 39 mins

Categories: Audio, Recorded Interviews

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.