Richard Moore, who heads the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, is due to make his first public speech since becoming head of the organization on Tuesday.
In excerpts from the speech released in advance by the UK government, he will say that quantum engineering, artificial biology, vast treasures of data and advances in computing power pose a threat that must be addressed by the democratic powers. .
“Our adversaries are investing money and ambition in mastering artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology, because they know that mastering these technologies will give them leverage”, Moore, who rarely gives public speeches, will say when presenting his take on the news. threats.
The world’s spies are trying to combat seismic technological advances that challenge traditional human-led espionage operations that have dominated espionage for thousands of years.
Moore, a former diplomat, became head of MI6 in October 2020.
Speaking to the Institute for International and Strategic Studies think tank, he will point out that technological advancements over the next decade may overtake any technological advancements made over the past century.
“As a society, we still have to internalize this glaring fact and its potential impact on global geopolitics. But it’s a hot target for MI6, ”he said.
Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies are of particular concern to spies in the world’s liberal democracies, who have rushed to harness the power of a range of sophisticated technologies, sometimes at a faster rate than in the West.
Western intelligence agencies fear that Beijing will dominate all key emerging technologies within decades, especially artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics.
China’s economic and military rise over the past 40 years is considered one of the most important geopolitical events of recent times, with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, which ended the war. cold.
MI6, described by novelists as the employer of some of the most memorable fictional spies from George Smiley from John le Carré to James Bond by Ian Fleming, operates overseas and is charged with defending the UK and its interests. .
Moore says the service will need to give up some of its deep-rooted secrets and work with tech companies to tackle rapidly developing threats.
MI6 and Western intelligence agencies will have to “become more open to remain secret” in a world of destabilizing technological change, he said.
“We can’t hope to replicate the global tech industry, so we have to tap into it. “
The agency has become more open in recent years, even allowing the publication of an authorized history although it only covers the period up to 1949.
MI6 began publicly naming its leader, who uses the code name C and is the organization’s only publicly identifiable member, in the 1990s.