Thought Experiment Raises Red Flags About Dual-Use AI: Researchers repurposed a generative model used for drug discovery to quickly predict tens of thousands of potentially toxic molecules, raising concerns that simple, seemingly harmless AI tools could be deployed for nefarious purposes. In a paper published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, the researchers explained that by inverting the logic of their machine learning-based generative model — which is trained to penalize toxicity in predicted molecules — the model generated predictions for 40,000 potentially toxic molecules in under six hours. Several of the molecules were known chemical warfare agents — indicating the model’s accuracy — and others were predicted to be more toxic than the nerve agent VX, one of the world’s best known and most toxic chemical compounds. While the research was part of a thought experiment for a Swiss conference on developments relevant to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions (and the process of actually synthesizing the model’s predicted molecules would be difficult, time consuming and expensive), its results have raised serious concerns about the future of seemingly benign AI systems as dual-use tools.
Stanford Institute Publishes Yearly AI Report: Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence released the 2022 edition of its AI Index earlier this month. The yearly report (to which CSET contributed analysis) aims to provide a comprehensive account of the state of AI research and development. Among its findings:
Private investment in AI more than doubled between 2020 and 2021, from approximately $46 billion in 2020 to more than $93.5 billion in 2021. The number of newly funded AI companies continued its drop, however, from a 2018 peak of nearly 1,200 companies to 746 in 2021. The United States maintained its significant lead in both overall private investment and newly funded AI companies.
China retained its global lead in AI research publications, producing 63 percent more than the second-place United States.
The number of AI patent filings continued its explosive growth from fewer than 20,000 in 2018 to more than 140,000 in 2021. East Asia and the Pacific continued to lead in AI patent filings (though this lead diminished for the second year in a row), while North America continued to lead in granted AI patents (though its lead continued to fall from a 2015 peak).
As language models have grown, they have also become more toxic — a state-of-the-art large language model developed in 2021 had a 29 percent increase in “elicited toxicity” over a 2018 model.
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The Washington Post: Associate Director of Analysis and Research Fellow Margarita Konaev discussed the Russian military and the realities of urban warfare with Greg Jaffe and Meg Kelly for an article about the ongoing fight for Mariupol.
Intelligence Online: Research Analyst Dakota Cary spoke with Claudia Astarita for a story about the Chinese government’s efforts to strengthen the country’s cyber talent pool, as described in his paper China’s National Cybersecurity Center.
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