In recent images from North Korea, college students are seen interacting with artificial intelligence robots at a science and technology exhibition on Oct. 24, 2023. It appears that North Korea is showing an interest in Fourth Industrial Revolution technology, particularly AI, as they explore new ways to expand its applications.
According to the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun, global competition for science and technology is intensifying. This includes efforts to apply AI to the education sector and the increased use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. The Korean Central Broadcasting Station also reported last November that other countries are actively using AI to increase agricultural production.
Footage from Korean Central Television shows a new VR-based education program developed last year, which allows users to learn about North Korea’s history and culture from the third to fourth century B.C. It seems that North Korea’s state media is introducing global trends of new technologies in order to expand their use in the agricultural and education fields, but there is also potential for military use.
Kim Hyuk, a research fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, reported that North Korean researchers have applied AI and its sub-field machine learning (ML) for military applications. The wargaming environment conceived by North Korea might be actual conflicts at a tactical level involving artillery shells. Given the potential for transferring AI/ML technology via intangible means, it is important to monitor North Korea’s activities and implement measures to mitigate potential sanctions risks within the academic and private sectors.