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In the mid-1990s boy scout David Hahn used household objects and his scientific knowledge to start building a nuclear reactor in his backyard. Police and the Environmental Protection Agency stopped him before he could finish. Twenty years later, revolutions in manufacturing and computing have made projects such as Hahn’s a lot more feasible; if he had access to a 3-D printer, for example, he might have finished his reactor before authorities intervened. Modern technologies also mean one does not need to be as smart as Hahn to create at least some kinds of DIY weapons. With the right machine and blueprints anyone can build a handgun in their living room—and firearms are just the beginning. Researchers fear that artificial intelligence and 3-D printing might one day create, on demand, weapons of mass destruction.

A report published Tuesday from a multi-institutional research group led by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey sounds an alarm about this possibility. “This is the proverbial wicked problem,” says paper co-author Robert Shaw, Director of the institute’s Export Control and Nonproliferation Program. Shaw says the proliferation of 3-D printers, combined with advances in artificial intelligence, could make it much easier for nations or individuals to covertly build nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Better get used to it. The cat is out of the bag. To read more, click here.
Category: Science