North Korea’s Embrace of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: AI and VR in Education and Military Applications.

North Korea aims to acquire 4th Industrial Revolution technology

In recent years, North Korea has shown a growing interest in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential applications. This is evident from footage of college students examining AI robots at a science and technology exhibition on Oct. 24, 2023.

According to the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun, global competition for science and technology is intensifying, with efforts to apply AI to the education sector and the increased use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology being major factors. The Korean Central Broadcasting Station also reported last November that other countries are actively using AI to boost agricultural production.

One example of this is a new VR-based education program developed last year by North Korea, which allows users to learn about their country’s history and culture from the third to fourth century B.C. While this could be seen as an effort to expand the use of new technologies in the education field, there is also potential for military applications.

Kim Hyuk, a research fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, has reported that North Korean researchers have applied AI and its subfield machine learning (ML) for military purposes. The wargaming environment conceived by North Korea may be actual conflicts at a tactical level involving artillery shells. Given the potential for transferring AI/ML technology via intangible means, it is crucial to monitor North Korea’s activities and implement measures to mitigate potential sanctions risks within the academic and private sectors.

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