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Real Future Concerns on Human Sounding AI Vulnerabilities


Tech giants across the globe are working incessantly on voice-controlled AI systems to make human life easier. However, researchers are warning that with the rise of voice AI, there?s a rise in vulnerabilities as well.

Alphabet Inc's Google already showed off an updated virtual assistant that can call restaurants, hair salons an, other businesses to check hours and make reservations, holding conversations on a user's behalf.

Latest research claims that these vulnerabilities could leverage inaudible commands at a frequency beyond human ability to launch attacks such as sending messages, making purchases, and so on, all without the user realizing it.

Researchers proved in 2016 they could use the technique to trigger basic commands, like making phone calls and launching websites. At the time, they hypothesized that it might be possible to embed these audio cues into music and other recordings, which would significantly amp up the creepy factor.

Now, that day has come. In a paper first reported on by The New York Times, researchers proved it is, in fact, possible to hide audio inside of other recordings in a way that's nearly undetectable to human ears.

Researchers at the UC Berkeley Nicholas Carlini and David Wagner claim that they were able to fool Mozilla?s open-source DeepSpeech voice-to-text engine by hiding a secret, inaudible command within audio of a completely different phrase, Cnet reported.

The researchers also claim that they were also able to hide the rogue command within brief music snippets and it worked.

This is not the first instance of voice AI being vulnerable. Last year, researchers in China were able to use inaudible, ultrasonic transmissions to trigger popular voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and the Google Assistant.

This attack method is called DolphinAttack (because dolphins can hear what humans can't) and requires the attacker to be within a small distance of the phone or smart speaker. However, latest studies claim that the attack can be amplified and executed even from a distance of 25 feet.
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