The Cyberlaw Podcast: AI-splaining

Stewart Baker
Tuesday, November 8, 2022, 11:12 AM

The latest episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The war that began with the Russian invasion of Ukraine grinds on. Cybersecurity experts have spent much of 2022 trying to draw lessons about cyberwar strategies from the conflict. Dmitri Alperovitch takes us through the latest lessons, cautioning that all of them could look different in a few months, as both sides adapt to the others’ actions. 

David Kris joins Dmitri to evaluate a Microsoft report hinting that China may be abusing its recent edict requiring that software vulnerabilities be reported first to the Chinese government. The temptation to turn such reports into zero-day exploits may be irresistible, and Microsoft notes with suspicion a recent rise in Chinese zero-day exploits. Dmitri worried about just such a development while serving on the Cyber Safety Review Board, but he is not yet convinced that we have the evidence to prove the case against the Chinese mandatory disclosure law. 

Sultan Meghji keeps us in Redmond, digging through a deep Protocol story on how Microsoft has helped build Artificial Intelligence (AI) in China. The amount of money invested, and the deep bench of AI researchers from China, raises real questions about how the United States can decouple from China—and whether China may eventually decide to do the decoupling. 

I express skepticism about the White House’s latest initiative on ransomware, a 30-plus nation summit that produced a modest set of concrete agreements. But Sultan and Dmitri have been on the receiving end of deputy national security adviser Anne Neuberger’s forceful personality, and they think we will see results. We’d better. Baks reported that ransomware payments doubled last year, to $1.2 billion.  

David introduces the high-stakes struggle over when cyberattacks can be excluded from insurance coverage as acts of war. A recent settlement between Mondelez and Zurich has left the law in limbo. 

Sultan tells me why AI is so bad at explaining the results it reaches. He sees light at the end of the tunnel. I see more stealthy imposition of woke academic values. But we find common ground in trashing the Facial Recognition Act, a lefty Democrat bill that throws together every bad proposal to regulate facial recognition ever put forward and adds a few more. A red wave will be worth it just to make sure this bill stays dead.

Finally, Sultan reviews the National Security Agency’s report on supply chain security. And I introduce the elephant in the room, or at least the mastodon: Elon Musk’s takeover at Twitter and the reaction to it. I downplay the probability of CFIUS reviewing the deal. And I mock the Elon-haters who fear that scrimping on content moderation will turn Twitter into a hellhole that includes *gasp!* Republican speech. Turns out that they are fleeing Twitter for Mastodon, which pretty much invented scrimping on content moderation.

Download the 429th Episode (mp3)

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The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Stewart A. Baker is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He returned to the firm following 3½ years at the Department of Homeland Security as its first Assistant Secretary for Policy. He earlier served as general counsel of the National Security Agency.

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