La policía internacional, la ética y el uso de la inteligencia artificial en la aplicación de la ley, con Jürgen Stock, de Interpol.

18 de febrero de 2022

En este episodio del podcast "Inteligencia Artificial e Igualdad", la Senior Fellow Anja Kaspersen habla con el Dr. Jürgen Stock, secretario general de la Organización Internacional de Policía Criminal (Interpol). En una interesante conversación, hablan de su trayectoria profesional al frente del organismo policial mundial, de lo que le mantiene despierto por las noches y del papel fundamental de la labor policial mundial para mantener la seguridad de las sociedades, especialmente cuando quienes tratan de eludir la justicia se esconden cada vez más tras pantallas y operan a través de bits y bytes, así como en la red oscura.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Jürgen, thank you so much for agreeing to have this conversation with us. It is a true honor. You and I have had the pleasure of engaging on these issues in the past, discussing the importance of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in the context of ethics and international affairs, and I am very excited to pursue these and also related issues in our conversation. However, before we dive deeper into the world of international policing, for those who are not familiar with you and also not familiar with the work of Interpol, I would like us to pause here for a bit and talk about your personal journey towards leading the world police body.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Thank you very much, Anja, for having me, first of all. It is a great pleasure, and thanks for that question, which reminds me that I have been in law enforcement for quite a while because I started my police career actually in 1978 as a 19-year-old detective. At that time there were limited opportunities for advancement. I decided to start studying law because I was looking for something that would complement what I was doing in police work. I didn't plan to quit the police because I did like the job, so I decided to study law part-time, which meant that in the morning I went to the university and sat in lectures and later in the afternoon I started my job as a police officer. At that time I was working in a drug unit, so it was very much working in the late afternoon, in the evening, and at night.

I met during my law studies a professor of criminology who at that time was one of the most renowned and prominent drug researchers in Germany and internationally, and he actually offered me a position at his chair, criminology, and I accepted and became an assistant and provided my professor the opportunity to have a deeper dive into the reality of police work, which later became the topic of my Ph.D work.

I did the first state examination in law and then had to quit the police because it was not possible to continue doing both at the same time for some legal reasons. I decided to stay at the university first of all and do the research and my Ph.D. That took me roughly three years, and then in Germany you have to do a second state examination to become a full-fledged lawyer. So that's what I did, and I had to make a decision whether I would stay at the university and go into a university career as a researcher and become a professor or go back to practical police work, and I decided on the latter, going back to the police. That's where my journey continued. Then in 2014 after some campaigning I became elected secretary-general of Interpol, my current position.

ANJA KASPERSEN: That is a very impressive summary of 44 years in law enforcement.

You alluded to how you opted to go back to the reality of police work and that the reality of police work also featured quite centrally in your doctoral work. I am just curious. During this 44 years what has changed in your view, and throughout this 44 years how have you been able to retain that passion that initially led you to seeking out a career in law enforcement?

JÜRGEN STOCK: Starting with the second part of your question, I am interested still from an academic and human point of view in deviant behavior as a phenomenon of our human existence: so the causes of crime, types of perpetrators and victims, how to prevent crime, and how to fight crime in an effective way. That is the first part.

Second, I am definitely until today interested in building bridges between different stakeholders and disciplines, between theory and practice, so having a lively interaction and making sure that between these worlds there are bridges and not walls is still part I think of my passion.

A third element perhaps is still working in teams where members bring different skills and perspectives to the table. That is certainly something that was part of my whole career, whether it was in a police station or at university. At any stage I have been working and benefiting from people who had a different perspective on things, who say, "Wait a minute, Jürgen, you need to see that from a different angle." Different skills and a diversity of teams I always experience as something very beneficial, and of course in today's world it is absolutely needed to tackle the complex problems we are facing.

Of course, it is the commitment. Yes, don't be shy to try new things. Be curious, based on a certain fundament, but look for new opportunities, be open for change, and don't consider change as something that is a threat. No, most of the time it is an opportunity.

These things are the drivers and inspiration for these different steps and sometimes going to the police, leaving the police, the academic world, and returning to police but at a different level, and also diving into the world of international police cooperation.

What has changed? That is a very good question. I tend to say everything has been changing— of course not everything, but the world has been fundamentally changing since 1978. I remember in my police training because it was winter time here in Europe one of the challenges we had was securing a footprint from a criminal in snow. That was one of the major tasks in my criminalistic training program. Of course in today's world we are facing the problems of: How do you seize Bitcoin? How do you investigate successfully in the underground economy, in the dark net?

Of course at that time there was no Internet. The world was mainly a physical world. When there was a crime scene we had time to secure the crime scene, collect the evidence, run around in the neighborhood, and ask people, "Have you seen anything suspicious, any number plate, or any suspicious person?" In the virtual world we most of the time don't have that time because evidence here is fluid and vulnerable, and also all the issues around.

The profile needed to be a successful police officer in today's world is very much different from when I entered the police. You needed physically strong and sportive kinds of police officers. Maybe wearing glasses was not necessarily an advantage. That has been completely changing. That is not required any longer, at least in some parts of the world. Of course, in other parts, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams, you still need to be a physically strong police officer, but investigating in the underground economy does require totally different skills. So it is more diverse—and of course we will talk about it later I'm sure—digitalization has been maybe the game changer for crime and in the way we as police try to tackle crime.

The last remark that comes to my mind is that maybe our job in international policing is more dangerous than ever. When I was a young police officer I never had any kind of really confrontational situation, so there was a kind of code of honor between the detectives and the criminals. If we were able to arrest the criminals, they more or less accepted that in terms of: "You won. Maybe next time we will win again, but this time you won, and we accept that." So there was not that much violence. Whereas I was just listening to the news last night that in many parts of our membership violence, aggression against police officers, firefighters, and medical staff has been increasing by 100 or even 200 percent during the last couple of years.

A lot has been changing, Anja. The world is the same on the one hand but has been totally changing on the other hand, but no doubt for our police work we need to adapt. If not, this will not make the world a safer place, and that is our mission. We want to make the world a safer place. That is why Interpol exists.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Thank you for mentioning the technology component and the digitalization. We will definitely come back to that.

But you mentioned something which is very core also to the work of the Carnegie Council, which is that of transdisciplinarity. I heard from what you were saying that you feel strongly about diversity and about bringing in transdisciplinary views, which is of course very important to any discussion on ethics, be that in international affairs more broadly or to effective police work more specifically.

JÜRGEN STOCK: That is also a complex question, and we are still looking for the right way to do it. Indeed, I learned that intensively during my work at the university. It was a chair for criminology in a law faculty, but I could not have done my work as a researcher without support. I was of course studying law, and I could not have done my work without support from psychologists who were very good in methodology, statistics, and so on; sociologists; lawyers of course; and practitioners at that time, and we had a number of meetings organized where we tried again to build that bridge between theory, university, academia, and the practitioners to bridge the gap that very often exists.

That has become a kind of guiding principle for my career, and of course in my work today. For instance, a couple of years ago within Interpol I created a new directorate for partnerships and planning. So the title is already the message. Without entering into partnerships with other players who can contribute to a safe world we couldn't do our job here at Interpol. We need expertise from other players to complement gaps we have in our own expertise, information that we do not have, access that we do not have, and working on solutions where we need different angles. To provide comprehensive solutions requires partnership, whether it is at the local level, the community level.

Community policing is one of the concepts actually to bring various stakeholders together, and in my Interpol world it is amongst others cooperation with the private sector because very often—you spoke about technology—the expertise sits within the private sector. We might not have the experts here onboard, we might not have the skills, we might not have the resources, and we might not have the experience. This is where we need to look for specific partnerships to complement ideas, gaps, or concepts we have here in police work.

A concrete example: To fight cybercrime we have established close cooperation with some of the leading global information technology (IT) companies or Internet service providers that have access to information which we cannot access, so open-source information, for instance, which is publicly available but not to Interpol. These partnerships enable us to also benefit from information expertise that sits within these companies, and we are doing it almost in a desk-to-desk approach. So my police teams, my expert teams sit together with experts from the private sector and work on solutions. Exchanging personal information is a different story. I am not talking about that, but let's say working on concepts, on threats, and on solutions: That is something in all crime areas, whether it is financial crime, cybercrime, organized crime, or terrorism where we couldn't do our job without partnerships.

The next stage I think between doing it occasionally is thinking about doing it in a more institutionalized framework, and institutionalized means not only attending the same conferences and saying, "Oh, nice to meet you, let's do something together," but thinking about an organizational and a proper legal framework to do our work jointly because we all have a role to play, and we can only do a little without having strong partnerships. Yes, the private sector is becoming more and more important for our daily work.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Jürgen, we have all watched our fair share of Hollywood blockbusters featuring Interpol in various roles, often with massive operational capabilities at their disposal, wide mandates, and Red Notices. I am wondering whether you can bust a few myths in this conversation but also take this as an opportunity to elaborate to all of our listeners what really Interpol is all about, and are these Hollywood blockbusters a fair representation of your work?

JÜRGEN STOCK: I am very grateful for this question because it allows me indeed to inform those who are listening a little bit more about the role of Interpol, which again is no doubt a world-famous brand. Of course, we are not the "supercops" who are traveling around the world and solving cold cases.

No. We are a kind of service provider since 1923. It is quite an old organization. It was built to support member countries' police services in catching criminals who are not accepting borders any longer for their criminal purposes. So we are a service provider first and foremost in regard to information.

Information is the key asset for detective work. That has not changed since 1978, when I started my career. Information is still the major resource. Without information you are not aware that a crime has taken place, and you are not solving a crime if you do not have the right information at the right time in the hands of the right police officer.

This is more of a specific explanation. The UN Security Council describes Interpol as the "unique global hub for the sharing of police-related information." That is the kind of political description of the role of Interpol. That means we are a global platform for police cooperation. We bring the police services of 195 member countries to the desk. We do everything to support the exchange of actionable police information in a proper legal framework including data protection and taking privacy into very serious consideration, so data management analysis and running a communication network that connects all these 195 police services around the world is the center of Interpol's existence. We run 19 global databases that contain some 120 million records.

Just to give you an idea, last year we had more than 4 billion searches into these databases and over 1.3 million hits that were conducted. That indicates the operational relevance. It is about fugitives of course. It is about stolen and lost travel documents. It's about stolen motor vehicles, but it is also about biometric information, DNA, the good old fingerprint, and facial recognition to help our member countries in identifying criminals and terrorists.

To mention another important example, we run a child sexual exploitation database that currently contains more than 2.7 million images and videos. Sixty-seven countries are connected to this database, and we try to find in an international cooperation effort—also supported by the private sector, by the way—investigative leads to identify victims of sexual abuse, children, and of course the perpetrators, and that database has helped us during the last couple of years to identify almost 30,000 children, sometimes rescued from ongoing abuse, and we have helped to arrest around 13,000 offenders.

Many of our law enforcement agencies ask Interpol for support in training their police officers to tackle the types of crime like terrorism, organized crime in all its manifestations, and cybercrime, and building the capacity in our member countries to enable the police organizations to be a strong part of our global network.

Why is that important? Because globalization of crime is continuing. That is also something that definitely has been changing, that the world of crime in today's world is much more a global world than it was in 1978.

That in a nutshell is what Interpol is about. It is an international organization very much structured like the United Nations. There is somebody responsible for the day-to-day operation. That is me, the secretary-general. He is let's say the CEO of Interpol. We have as the supreme decision-making body the General Assembly that consists of delegations from all of the 195 member countries, and in between we have a supervisory board that is presided over by the president of Interpol, and this body has to make sure that the Secretariat, my team, is properly implementing the decisions taken by the General Assembly. So it is very much the same governance structure that you know from other international organizations.

I hope that explains the mandate of Interpol and also the role of the governance structure.

Maybe I should explain a last item because it is also very important. We have a limited mandate. What does that mean? You might consider that 195 member country police services have very different standards. They are operating in different political systems, and Interpol is connecting 195 countries that, as we all know, sometimes have diplomatic difficulties amongst each other. Sometimes even they do not talk that much with each other, but we nevertheless try to connect the police services. Why? Because criminals are exploiting any gap we would leave in international police cooperation for their criminal purposes. So we establish channels even if diplomatically it is very difficult. That is part of the success of Interpol.

But we have to stay away from all issues that have predominantly a military aspect, a racial aspect, a religious aspect, or a political aspect. We know there is no globally agreed definition of cybercrime, of organized crime, or of terrorism, so our mandate is limited insofar as we should not enter into politics. So we focus on ordinary law crime, but let's say in the cyber world, for instance, some researchers tell us that roughly 80 percent of all unlawful activity is related simply to crime and criminal activity. Of course, we have a strong mandate and a strong task according to our constitution to also, for instance, strictly follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we are taking that—you mentioned the Red Notices, for instance—mandate very seriously. For instance, we say every single request from member countries for instance to arrest somebody who is on the run needs to be compliant with our strict rules and procedures.

We have rules for the processing of data exactly explaining what the areas are where Interpol can provide support and what are the areas in which, again if it becomes a predominantly political issue—if it concerns, for instance, a political refugee—we are out and cannot and should not support our member countries, which does not mean that member countries cannot do something on their own, but at least they cannot use the Interpol channels. That is also an important part that needs to be understood, where the limits of our support work for our member countries are, for very good reasons, not to be dragged into difficult political issues.

ANJA KASPERSEN: If I understand correctly, the president in terms of your governance structure has no operational function than Interpol.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Yes. The president of Interpol chairs the General Assembly and chairs the Executive Committee, so he has no other individual decision-making powers. Neither he nor any other member of the Executive Committee is involved in the day-to-day work. A person remains in his official capacity within his own country. The secretary-general of course is independent, and his job is to run the day-to-day operations of Interpol.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Jürgen, you have posited that no country can address the security challenges of today and tomorrow alone. Can you elaborate on this for our listeners and the importance of global police work, especially as those seeking to evade justice increasingly hide behind screens or operate on the dark net, as you were alluding to? Whereas you were trying to find a footprint in the snow, you are now trying to find a footprint among bits, bytes, and activities online.

JÜRGEN STOCK: It is a very important question and a very good question. Again, as I said, that trend definitely is continuing, which is the globalization of crime. What do I mean? We have seen during the last couple of years in international terrorism the so-called "foreign terrorist fighters" that went into the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq from almost all over the world. So there are dynamics within terrorism that we perhaps have never seen before in all these manifestations. Today although the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was defeated physically in Syria and Iraq, the philosophy is still there, and we still see the threat growing in some parts of the world, like in Africa and in some parts of Asia. So it's not over yet, and it is extremely international in terms of the scale.

With organized crime we are talking about globally operating criminal enterprises. One example where we are running a successful project currently with strong support from Italy is 'Ndrangheta, one of the most dangerous criminal groups in the world, with a long history not only in Italy but now over the decades being present in more than 30 countries around the world.

Of course, at the end of the day there is cybercrime, which of course is bodiless by nature. You can sit at home on your sofa and you can attack any critical infrastructure on another continent. That is what we are seeing on a daily basis.

So, more than ever, criminals are transcending borders. Criminals are sitting in one continent, the victims are on another continent, and the proceeds of crime are on the next continent. That is the challenge of international law enforcement because to prevent, to detect, and to investigate and solve crimes you need information, information that very often again sits outside of your own borders and outside of your jurisdictions. That is what I mean by saying no country can fight that in isolation. You cannot just say: "Okay, I sit here, I await which kinds of threats are crossing my borders, and then I start acting." That would not help in protecting the citizens of your country.

We need to connect these dots. That is extremely important. We need to exchange information to tackle the root causes of crime or where a certain threat has been starting. We need to investigate the criminals wherever they are or are hiding. We want also to get the proceeds of crime, we are going after the money, which in today's world with a click of a mouse can be moved from one country to the next country.

We are saying every gap we would leave in international police cooperation would be exploited by criminals, and that is the reality we see. This is why we are saying we need to connect all our 195 member countries properly, making Interpol more important than ever.

ANJA KASPERSEN: I think you used the words "beacon of light" in your speech when you were elected as secretary-general.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Yes, exactly. That is another nice description of the important role Interpol plays.

ANJA KASPERSEN: It is clear that novel technologies, new concepts, methods, and cutting-edge ideas have brought significant change to law enforcement in recent years. While being secretary-general for Interpol you have invested heavily in innovation and have personally pioneered creative ideas, including setting up an Interpol Innovation Centre in Singapore. In your view, what are the top innovations shaping the future of law enforcement?

JÜRGEN STOCK: Again, a very good question. I would say innovation is not just about technology. Of course we are focusing very much on technology today, but I think it is also about identifying new ways to do things better, which is vital as most of the police services that we are serving lack resources. We will perhaps come back to that point.

It is also about new methods. It is about new concepts. For instance, our closer cooperation with the private sector in a more institutionalized way is one of the examples. It is also the different use of emerging technologies. I am sure that digitalization can support law enforcement. It is absolutely the future of law enforcement.

By the way, it is also currently the fact that criminals are exploiting new technologies, and they are also quite innovative and fast because they don't have to necessarily follow the rules. To give you an example, drones can be used within policing to expand our search parameters and conduct surveillance. They can assist with traffic accident investigations, they can survey natural disaster sites, and even more.

I mentioned already our crimes against children unit that is also using artificial intelligence (AI) to help sort through the nearly 3 million images in our international database, so image and video comparison software helps investigators to make connections between victims, abusers, and places.

So innovation to me seems to be more of a continuous journey, and it is important also that we consider transparency, accountability, and trust as key issues for law enforcement in what we use and why we are using it. That is also the role of the Innovation Centre in Singapore, not only the kind of technology radar to monitor what kind of new technologies are coming up that could be used by criminals, but also by law enforcement to also discuss, again with private-sector partners, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations, what are the ethical standards that we need to use because there is definitely not a view that says whatever the new technology is about we will use it. No. It is doing it in a responsible way and in an ethical way.

This is where our societies need to be agile because technologies are developing fast. Criminals do not need to adhere to the rules. Criminals very often have the necessary resources to use new technologies for their criminal purposes, and we know the use of these new technologies can have devastating effects on, for instance, critical infrastructures.

So law enforcement necessarily might be sometimes a little bit behind because it requires discussion in all of our countries and within the Interpol mechanism about responsible use of these new technologies—what are the benefits, what are maybe the costs, what are the data protection implications and privacy implications. It necessarily takes a little bit of time to come at the end of the day to a proper conclusion. Also, where are the limits to use technology that is available but law enforcement nevertheless decides not to use it for exactly these ethical reasons?

This is also part of the platform we are providing. It is very much discussing these elements with our membership. We have been, for instance, doing a joint project with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) on the responsible use of artificial intelligence and facial recognition within policing. That is just one example of how we try to see new technologies in a comprehensive way, not just purely the new "how can that help law enforcement"—and they are great options, no doubt about that—but where do we have to be careful and how do we need to take data protection considerations into our concepts and our planning.

That necessarily takes sometimes a little bit of time but also provides guidance to our membership. In this example with UNICRI, for instance, we have been developing a specific concrete toolkit that can be used by our member countries to make their own assessment on the use of new technologies, in this example artificial intelligence and facial recognition.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Of course, with any of these technologies it is an ongoing process because it evolves so fast, and the applications constantly evolve as well.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Yes. This is why I say innovation for me is more a long-term process that is continuously going on.

DNA was another example which decades ago was a major innovation in policing that has helped solve hundreds of thousands of cold cases all around the world, but that journey is not over yet because we are still seeing DNA profiling analysis providing more possibilities for law enforcement to receive investigative leads. Also, of course, a decision needs to be made where the red lines are set, to say: "Okay, we are exploiting it to this extent but not any further because that would not be in line with our ethical understanding of police work, data collection, privacy," and so on. So again, another example of an innovation that has been starting at some stage but is still to some extent going on. It's a process actually.

ANJA KASPERSEN: The core premise of law enforcement, as you also alluded to earlier speaking about your own life journey, is about keeping society safe and secure. As technology is changing core aspects of how we interact as a society, even what it means to be human within the society, and as societies also change, as you were saying, at accelerating speed, so too will the tools, techniques, and concepts that women and men of law enforcement have at their disposal and use to keep us safe. In your personal view, is law enforcement keeping up with the changes technologies bring about?

JÜRGEN STOCK: I think in a state under the rule of law it is to some extent quite normal that police are lagging a little bit behind when it comes to the use of modern technology. Again, it requires discussion. It requires also the lawmakers to discuss issues and to provide the legal basis for any police action.

We have that discussion currently also around encryption, which has definitely made police work more difficult. When I was a young police officer, with a court order we were able to intercept telephone communications. Today, with end-to-end encryption, this is almost impossible to do for law enforcement, so there is a discussion going on. What is the solution?

This is where police including Interpol are explaining the risks of new technologies, but the solutions need to be found by the lawmakers in our member countries as to what extent police are provided with solutions because we need to have the laws and the tools to tackle those types of crimes that are harming all our societies. It necessarily takes a little time.

On the other hand, again it is not just about technology. I think it is also about the combination between tech and the human brain and experience. In our internal discussions when we are discussing the use of artificial intelligence within Interpol, I always say it is not just an issue of buying the software or the computer, it is having the expert system and the expert behind the system. I think at the end of the day what we need is an experienced police officer. What we need again are these discussions with our partners as a basis for police action, whether it is on a strategic level or on more of an operational level.

So the combination between expert system, technique, and the expert who is running the machine, if I may say in a simple description, I think is what matters, and this is what we currently try to determine in all parts of our activities. How do we establish that proper combination between the machine—the software and computer—on the one hand, but at the end there is a police officer who has everything under control and makes the decision at the end of the day based also on his or her experience?

ANJA KASPERSEN: Jürgen, I have heard you say that information is the lifeblood of law enforcement, and you have alluded to as much in your earlier remarks. On the Interpol website it says, "Data is at the heart of international policing." Can you elaborate on what you mean by this and perhaps also share some further reflections around the ethics of use of data in law enforcement, especially in cases where the data might fall into the wrong hands or even into hands that are not prepared for or trained to manage the data securely or with the necessary integrity and knowledge required?

JÜRGEN STOCK: Good point. Important point.

As I said earlier, information is the key resource of any police work. To be aware that a crime occurs—and we saw that very recently in some very successful international operations that allowed us to have a deep dive into the reality of organized crime—how important it is to gather the right information and to get really the bigger picture. Absolutely crucial.

The second point, of course, is that the availability of information today might not any longer be the big problem. The problem we are having very often is the so-called "big data." You do a search of a house—when I was young police officer it was mainly paper that was the evidence, so you collected paper and read the paper, and today of course we have computers and we know the capacity of our mobile phones, for instance, in terms of evidence collection.

Open-source information in today's world is also available to law enforcement. The challenge for us in today's world is how do we find the needle in the haystack, if I may say. How do we find in a treasure trove of information that is not relevant to police those few pieces that are connecting the dots and helping us successfully investigate a crime? Of course, this is something where technology is absolutely crucial, artificial intelligence and smart software, to help law enforcement find the right pieces of information, the needle in the haystack.

We have to protect that information. We need to do that work based on a proper legal framework, and we have to protect our systems because a police organization can be attacked remotely in today's world. That is one part.

The other element that I would like to highlight here is that the majority of information in today's world sits within the private sector. Private companies and Internet service providers have the data available actually which law enforcement needs for its work. We have seen so many cases where companies have been successfully attacked by cybercriminals and hundreds of billions of pieces of data were stolen. That is still part of the reality in the cyber domain.

This is the reason why Interpol has repeatedly during the last couple of years insisted and wanted to invest more in cybersecurity. Businesses, companies, and the private sector need to invest in IT security. IT security is a topic for the C-suites, not only for any IT officer within an organization, but for the CEO of a company and for the board, because it is absolutely crucial that we protect our data.

We have a role to play and the private sector has a role to play. We also to some extent need access to information that in today's world more than ever sits within the private sector. That is again something where also Interpol is explaining to lawmakers where the problems are currently, and we are inviting the lawmakers to consider solutions. Again, information is key, and if we do not have access to certain information we cannot prevent crime from happening or investigate crime successfully. Of course, we all have the responsibility to properly invest in IT security, and hopefully modern technology including artificial intelligence will also enable us to protect the data we have.

Again, Interpol takes that role very seriously. We are investing a lot in protecting the data that the member countries have entrusted to our databases and our analytical trials.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Thank you for those clarifications, Jürgen, and sharing these insights from your day-to-day work in Interpol.

You mentioned artificial intelligence and machine learning, both of which provide obvious advantages for any law enforcement agency to ensure timely, cost-effective, and actionable intelligence to find what you referred to as the needle in the haystack. AI and machine learning can also be used to detect correlations including connections, patterns, and trends, and they can and are being used not to support just the data part of gathering intelligence but also other police technologies, including facial recognition and biometric operations, both of which you mentioned, and can also be used for crime forecasting, mapping, and predicting to pinpoint high-crime areas or profiles to optimize resources and results.

Obvious advantages are coming from using these technologies. However, for anyone who has been on the inside of AI research for a while—which is obviously a strong focus of the work of the Carnegie Council in this domain—it is important to remember that AI and machine learning only provides correlation in its current state, not causation, and certainly not consequences.

To ensure that the intelligence that you're relating to is both trustworthy and actionable there needs to be serious and sustained investment in the human aspect of data gathering, in the humans gathering the data, and their abilities to actually interpret and engage with the data. How is this done in law enforcement in general, and how is Interpol approaching this topic and these dilemmas? How can we make sure that AI is being embedded, given its immaturity at this stage, in the best and most responsible ways in law enforcement?

JÜRGEN STOCK: We try to establish a comprehensive view from the very beginning on any new technology. For instance, the technology radar that I already mentioned is for us the starting point, where we try, in cooperation with the private sector, to monitor any new development so that law enforcement in an ideal world and also our lawmakers would be prepared, saying: "There is a new technology coming up that could be used potentially by criminals and could have devastating effects if we are not taking any preventative action fast enough."

The second element is the use of new technologies by law enforcement. Again, here we try, in cooperation with many international partners, to establish a comprehensive view on new technology. It is the capability itself, but it is also the question of to what extent we can embed that into a proper legal framework that is also established based on ethical considerations, considerations concerning data protection and privacy, so that from the very beginning we are not seeing technology only isolated as a means but embedded in our understanding of an ethical use.

That is why, for instance, we have started at a very early stage cooperation with the World Economic Forum, for instance, or the United Nations on the ethical use of new technologies to have that already at the very early planning stage embedded into any project that is going on amongst our member countries and they are using this toolkit that Interpol is providing.

We also want to systematically collect experience on the use because we know in many countries around the world they are testing currently predictive policing, the idea that artificial intelligence would help us find out where the next bank robbery will take place. Or an example from my home country, Germany, is almost every night an ATM machine is somewhere blown up. Police of course would be happy to know where the next crime is taking place, to be already there, a kind of Minority Report consideration.

But we also know that there are risks in that technology. It depends on which data you are feeding into the system. You want to ensure that it is not biased. You want to make sure that you are not discriminating against any parts of society. We know how sensitive that is, and we want to help member countries to systematically share their experience. We are doing it.

We are running specific projects with some member countries to collect that experience and to share that amongst the 195—again so we can use new technology not blindly but embedded in a proper discussion on the ethical dimension—because again, coming back to what we said at the beginning of our conversation, trust of the public in policing is fundamental. You cannot think about successful police work if you don't have the support from the people in your country, your societies, and your communities.

We need to make sure that communities are part of that discussion, that we consider that seriously, and that this is a guiding principle of our work to step-by-step establish and use new technologies. No doubt we need new technologies, they are helping law enforcement, but it needs to be done in a responsible way, even if it takes a little bit longer to introduce a new technology in our daily work.

ANJA KASPERSEN: So constantly being aware that criminals will be ahead of the curve but at the same time taking the time to mitigate any tensions and discuss any tradeoffs.

Interestingly, you mentioned Minority Report with Tom Cruise. These are exactly the types of issues his character as a law enforcer was facing in that movie, about how using predictive analytics and predictive policing does produce quite a few of those unresolved tensions that need to be dealt with.

JÜRGEN STOCK: But perhaps societies also need to be a bit more agile because we know—I repeat what I said earlier—new technologies, specifically cyberweapons, of which we have seen a few examples in the recent past, can have devastating effects. For instance, the ransomware attacks against hospitals during the pandemic on critical infrastructure.

The speed with which we adapt to these developments needs to increase. We know that lawmakers need time. It takes time for parliaments to discuss these issues, but, on the other hand, the criminals have these weapons readily available and we have seen the huge effects that a cyberattack on critical infrastructure can have. We need to make sure that we are agile and that we are responding fast enough to avoid a kind of catastrophe if one of our critical infrastructures is attacked successfully.

ANJA KASPERSEN: I have heard you say: "The reaction time we can afford ourselves is plummeting to the point where reaction is simply not an option. We must foresee, we must anticipate, and we must prepare for the next breakthrough." I guess that is what you were referring to in what you just said.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Exactly. That is also the role of the Innovation Centre, that, together with our international partners including the private sector, we try to anticipate developments. That is of utmost importance also because law enforcement traditionally is a reactive kind of business, if I may say. We are a reactive organization. We are very professional in reacting fast. If there is a new threat, police all around the world are in a position to shift their priorities and their focus very quickly to a new threat.

On the other hand, that might not be fast enough in case there is a major cyber threat, for instance. New tools might be available for criminals, so we definitely need to be more agile. That also makes the work of our Innovation Centre in Singapore so important, because they try to anticipate and address the threats that may face us tomorrow or already today, so law enforcement and lawmakers in an ideal world will already be prepared, and of course protecting our systems and our critical infrastructures. That is the challenge we are facing because the speed of new developments will only increase. I think this is not a surprise at all.

ANJA KASPERSEN: You have mentioned cyber a few times already, and I have noticed that you have called for police agencies all over the world to form a global coalition with private-actor partners to agree on a universal strategy to prevent what you have coined as a potential "ransomware pandemic" that has not only accelerated but also mutated during and in the margins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you explain what you mean by this?

JÜRGEN STOCK: It was a kind of dynamic which I have never seen in my long career, that criminals are exploiting a new vulnerability, the consequence of COVID-19, so quickly and shifting their resources to the new phenomena and the new vulnerabilities in our society.

What do I mean? In February 2019, Interpol organized an operation, which we normally do annually, against counterfeited products. In the past, it was counterfeited malaria medicine and other counterfeited medications, equipment, and so on.

In February 2019, we conducted that operation. Ninety member countries were involved. What we could already see at the very early stages of the pandemic was that criminals were shifting to protective material in regard to COVID-19, counterfeited so-called "medicine," sanitary products, disinfectants, masks, and so on. So at a very early stage of the pandemic the criminals had already realized what was going on and how they could exploit the situation.

Of course, at a very early stage we said, "As soon as a vaccine is available, we will see criminals quickly shifting and bringing counterfeited vaccines to the markets." That happened exactly, together with all the scams we have seen—personal protective equipment and material, the ransomware attacks on hospitals that we already discussed, counterfeited or fake websites, and so on. That was the reason why I said it is a kind of parallel pandemic of COVID-19-related crime that is currently going on and has not been stopping until now.

This is just another example of how dynamic the criminal world is and how quickly traditional organized crime groups, for instance, are shifting their focus if there is a new opportunity coming up. That also needs to be reflected in our work so that we can quickly adapt our resources to tackle these kinds of new phenomena or the new modi operandi that we are facing in today's world. That was something which, again, I had never seen in my long career.

ANJA KASPERSEN: On your caution that we are facing a ransomware pandemic, Jürgen, we have all seen in the news that the pace and scale of these ransomware attacks have grown. Do you see a particular cause for this, and where are we heading?

JÜRGEN STOCK: It is simply because it is very profitable. And it's low-risk, of course, because it is bodiless crime by nature.

It is also because in the past we have not been investing—and "we" means everybody—enough in IT security. It starts with our private behavior—using let's say PIN codes that are not easily detected like 12345 or your date of birth—and using all the instruments that are available, at least at a basic level, to protect the systems we are using.

The private-sector companies so far have not always been properly protecting their crown jewels. That has been providing unprecedented opportunities for criminals to attack the systems. In the private sector and public sector, again we have seen that, and we still see that, on a kind of industrial scale because again artificial intelligence is also being used by criminals to conduct that type of crime on an industrial scale.

So it is highly profitable, relatively low risk, and it is good now to see that obviously the messages we have also been sending during the last couple of years are resonating and that now IT security really is an issue at the level of lawmakers, where protecting critical infrastructure is first and foremost. But also at the CEO and board levels I see now a much higher level of awareness, and that is absolutely needed because cybercrime, from my point of view, will be the main challenge for all of us in the years to come, perhaps more than terrorism or traditional forms of organized crime, because of the huge opportunities criminals are having in investing and conducting these types of crimes.

ANJA KASPERSEN: And as we as societies become more reliant upon being online. The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously forced us to become much more online than we had been in the past.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Exactly, Anja. The so-called—and again, I am not a technical expert—"hyperconnected" world, the Internet of Everything, Industry 4.0, this is the ideal environment for criminals if we are not by design considering IT security from the very early stages of any IT-related product and what could be the consequences if criminals attack the system. IT security by design, in exchanges also between law enforcement and the private sector on new threat patterns and new modi operandi, is absolutely crucial to make sure that whatever we develop is to the benefit of people around the world and not only to criminals.

We need to be very careful and very agile. I think there is still a lot for all of us to do, whether we use these technologies for our private purposes but also business and the public sector, and first and foremost for our critical infrastructures—electricity, water supply, and the health system.

We have seen in some countries almost the whole health system has been stopped by a ransomware attack. I think this is more than alarming and indicates how important it is that we invest in IT security in terms of resources, awareness, and using new IT tools to protect our systems.

ANJA KASPERSEN: It is clear from what you have said, Jürgen, and shared with our listeners that with innovation comes also great responsibility and also new capabilities, and technologies with deep and profound impact on the future of law enforcement will continue to evolve. This leads me to the issue of leadership: How do we invest in getting the right leaders at all levels to stay well informed and ready to both question and engage with and assess the impacts of these technologies but also wrangle with any and all ethical considerations that impact on their leadership and the requirements of being good leaders in this domain?

JÜRGEN STOCK: Interpol is providing leadership programs for our membership, and that starts with chiefs of police, where we discuss not only our strategic direction operational leads, but we also discuss the uses of new technologies within Interpol because we are currently also introducing a lot of new means and new methodology as we try to strengthen our analytical capabilities. Within Interpol our senior management team discusses also with our membership, chiefs of police in our various countries, the need to also see new technologies and to consider new technologies in the context of the proper ethical framework.

Our leadership program that we are providing has various elements. One of the elements is about the use of new technologies in relation to data protection, privacy, and ethical considerations. It is part of the leadership program. We are not delegating that to the lower levels. We want to make sure that we are discussing that on our level, the chiefs-of-police level, to make sure that chiefs of police who have to make the important decisions within their offices see it in the right context.

ANJA KASPERSEN: I think all our listeners are wondering the same as me, Jürgen: As the leader of the world police body, what keeps you up at night, and, perhaps more importantly, what gives you hope when you get up in the morning?

JÜRGEN STOCK: That's also a good question.

What keeps me awake at night are definitely two elements that I have already mentioned. To some extent, it is the devastating effect that any cyberattack can have on our daily lives and our critical infrastructures, the need to better protect our systems.

On the other hand, I have the privilege of meeting a lot of police officers around the world, many of them very committed in playing a strong part in making the world a safer place but very poorly equipped and very poorly trained because the countries and their police services lack basic equipment, skills, and resources. So an important part of our work is not only supporting those police services that are applying state-of-the-art technology—that are, say, the Champions League of law enforcement globally—but also those where Interpol pays monthly fees for electricity, access to the Internet, and very basic capabilities so that these police agencies and their very dedicated and committed police officers are connected to our system.

That keeps me awake at night because I see many of them, again very committed, dedicating their lives to the security of their communities, but lacking basic skills they need. We are working hard and are supported by many member countries and international organizations to provide that support.

What gives me hope is also a result of my travel activities and having the privilege to meet many police officers, our partners in our member countries, international organizations, and NGOs—all committed and contributing to making the world a safer place where they are, in their place, committed to networking and connecting, and trying to tackle serious crime. That is something that every day gives me hope.

At the end of the day, the reports I receive every morning from our command-and-control center indicating sometimes small or bigger success stories we have every day—supporting our member countries in arresting kingpins of organized crime or terrorism or rescuing a child somewhere from ongoing sexual abuse—seeing every morning that we can make a difference and we are in a position to at least make the world a little bit of a safer place.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Those are very important points. If you allow me, Jürgen, as someone who has definitively seen more of the underbelly of society than most and humanity at its worst, and sometimes as you refer to at its best, what is your go-to life remedy to clear your mind and to reenergize and stay positive? What advice do you have to those seeking a career in law enforcement to build the necessary resilience and strength to do this?

JÜRGEN STOCK: I think it is connecting to other people— again, as I said at the beginning of our conversation, specifically people with a different perspective, different skills, coming from a totally different angle—and asking good questions or giving good advice and feeling their commitment and their willingness to build coalitions and alliances against crime. What I mean is people in international organizations, in the various functions in our member countries, NGOs, politicians, and people on the street. Sometimes, if I have the privilege to address a community, the feedback I receive.

And of course, on the other hand, I think for all of us family, friends, and for me a little bit of sport recharges the batteries.

We spoke at the beginning of our conversation about what has been changing since I started my career, and I think some of the fundamentals have definitely not changed: the need to stay curious, to ask good questions, to look for strong partnerships, and accepting change as an opportunity and not considering it as a threat. I think these fundamentals are not changing, or maybe they are even more important than ever. These are still some of the fundamentals I try to follow in terms of seizing opportunities and considering risks.

ANJA KASPERSEN: So remaining curious, inquisitive, and asking good questions.

JÜRGEN STOCK: Indeed, indeed, and making sure that I am addressing good questions, that I am challenged in my thinking in my day-to-day work and in my approach, trying to make the world a safer place. I think this ability to see things from a different angle is of utmost importance in today's complex world to make sure we have an overview, we make the right decisions, and we are connecting with the right partners. From my point of view this is absolutely fundamental.

ANJA KASPERSEN: Thank you so much, Jürgen, for sharing your time, your story, and deep expertise. This has been truly a wondrous conversation with so many insights.

Thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in, and a special thanks to the team at the Carnegie Council for hosting and producing this podcast. For the latest content on ethics and international affairs be sure to follow us on social media @carnegiecouncil.

My name is Anja Kaspersen, and I hope we earned the privilege of your time. Thank you.

También le puede interesar

NOV 10, 2021 - Artículo

¿Por qué estamos fracasando en la ética de la IA?

Mientras lee esto, los sistemas de IA y las tecnologías algorítmicas se están integrando y ampliando mucho más rápidamente que los marcos de gobernanza existentes (es decir, las normas ...