MI5 reveals it has been working with an AI non-profit on national security since 2017

The entrance to MI5's headquarters at Thames House, London
(Image credit: Getty Images)

MI5 and The Alan Turing Institute revealed today they have an ongoing partnership which focuses on applying artificial intelligence (AI) research to confront national security challenges.

The partnership is part of The Alan Turing Institute Defence and Security Programme which was launched in 2017 to ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous society, including the application of AI ethics to defence and security projects.

MI5 has decided to unveil this partnership today to allow it to work more closely with the Alan Turing Institute and its academic stakeholders. The security service often draws on new technologies to help identify and mitigate threats to UK national security and keep the country safe, including the use of data science and AI, it added.

Part of the collaboration supports MI5 in keeping up-to-date with state-of-the-art approaches in AI that can be used to respond more flexibly and more quickly to threats to UK national security. It’s already using AI to keep the country safe, revealed the security service. For example, it uses the technology to help identify dangerous weapons. AI is used to scan and triage images which could contain weapons before being passed to experts to assess the need for further action.

“The UK faces a broader and more complex range of threats, with the clues hidden in ever-more fragmented data,” said Ken McCallum, MI5 director-general. “MI5 has a long and proud history of innovation and use of cutting-edge technology in an ethical way; artificial intelligence is another example of that and a vital capability in MI5’s toolkit.”


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“By working with the Alan Turing Institute, MI5 can draw on world-leading expertise to ensure our use of AI keeps pace with the challenges we face, and enables us to keep the country safe,” he added.

As the UK’s national institute for data science and AI, The Alan Turing Institute specialises in the development of high-performing, ethical AI, and offers MI5 the opportunity to make the most of its research and expertise in developing its own AI tools, said the institute. It added that this also means MI5 will be able to contribute more openly to the development of AI in the UK for the wider public benefit.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.