Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagBioweapons and AI

Prohibited development of bioweapon in a lab. A dropper and a Petri dishes with human blood sample and a row of ampoules with a bio-hazard sign, close-up, selected focus.

Will AI Start the Next Pandemic? It Easily Could.

It’s a bigger risk than we might think, as an experiment written up in a Nature journal has shown

In a recent paper at Nature Machine Intelligence, three drug discovery researchers share an unsettling result from their experiment with AI drug discovery. Their normal practice when getting AI software to motor through thousands of possibilities (which might take human researchers years) is to penalize toxicity and reward bioactivity. They wondered what would happen when they decided to reward both toxicity and bioactivity — to challenge their artificial intelligence — modeled on open source software — to create a lethal bioweapon: To narrow the universe of molecules, we chose to drive the generative model towards compounds such as the nerve agent VX, one of the most toxic chemical warfare agents developed during the twentieth century — a few salt-sized grains…