back to article Skynet for the win? AI hunts down secret testing of nuclear bombs

AI can detect signs of nuclear weapons testing banned under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, according to research from the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. A group of scientists have built a neural network to sniff out any unusual nuclear activity. Researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Go

    Need a test signal...

    Can we have the Norks bomb Florida?

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Need a test signal...

      "Florida man found badly beaten after argument with second head"

      "Mutant Alligator wins election after 'Refill the Swamp' / 'Make America Glow Again' campaign"

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Need a test signal...

      Nah. Florida gets a pass for past favo(u)rs to the ruling party.

      Besides, the administration has already all but declared war on California, the "out of control" state.

      1. Evil Auditor

        Re: Need a test signal...

        ...all but declared war on California...

        Difficult to tell if you're playing the victim or if you're being proud of that ;-) Anyway, I wonder which features of decay lead to the orange-skin-yellow-hair syndrom.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Need a test signal...

          Proud, here at least. Born, bred and absolutely insane.

          1. Evil Auditor

            Re: Need a test signal...

            Proud, here at least. Born, bred and absolutely insane.

            That's what I like about Cal! Unfortunately, since having visas of some "evil" countries in the east in my passport, it's out of question to go back there any time soon*.

            * Yes, I could apply for a USA visa. And no, I certainly won't go through that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Need a test signal...

              Understood. TPTB would throw an total shit-fit if I even try to go to one of the "evil countries." That's a shame as I rather like Hong Kong.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Need a test signal...

              I live here, and have stamps from many of those so-called "evil" countries in my passport. Nobody's even given me a passing glance, so far as I know.

              (Note: It's not the country that's evil, rather it's the idiots in charge of that country who may, or may not, be doing evil things. The vast majority of humans, world-wide, are folks you'd probably enjoy shooting the breeze with over a cold one (assuming a lingua franca .. or a good translator, babble fish being the product of a particularly fertile imagination).)

              1. Evil Auditor

                Re: Need a test signal...

                @jake

                Nobody's even given me a passing glance, so far as I know.

                With USA immigration officers I've only had pleasant, funny experiences, every single time.

                I assume, you, living around Napa County, are a citizen of the USA. I'm not but used to "profit" from the visa waiver programme. But now would have to apply for a visa and if you'd check what information they ask for, you might understand why I prefer to stay away. For example, IIRC, they ask information about former spouses which I don't even know.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Need a test signal...

          I'm no victim, no how much my .gov wishes it were so.

          The IdiotInChief's comments don't make me feel proud, either. I'm more sad that the moron who uttered those words is actually sitting in the Oval Office. What a waste. What a complete, total and utter waste. Ah, well. In a couple years we can start fixing his fuckups. Onwards & upwards.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Need a test signal...

      I understood the title of the article but little of the explanation made sense to me.

      For example:

      "The lab, buried beneath 81 feet of concrete, rock and earth, is blocked out from energy from cosmic rays, electronics and other sources. It means that the data collected is less noisy"

      Now I would have thought that under those conditions, deep underground, all you're going to detect are neutrinos and very high energy cosmic rays whereas, I believe, that particles from nuclear testing will have lower energies and would thus be undetectable. The 'normal' way of detecting the products of nuclear testing is by airborne sampling.

      But the biggest problem with the idea of using AI to identify rogue nuclear-testing events is the quality of the training data. I don't think that there have been enough real nuclear tests to have gathered sufficient training data and suspect that most of it must have been synthetic, which raises the risk of bias.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    So first these eggheads built SkyNet...

    And now they're teaching it about atom bombs!? It's political correctness gone mad!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science fiction is rapidly becoming reality

    One day, we will be hunted down for wrongthink.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Science fiction is rapidly becoming reality

      ...One day, we will be hunted down for wrongthink....

      One day?

      http://theconversation.com/reminder-you-could-be-sacked-for-tweeting-entirely-personal-things-36042

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you-could-be-sacked-for-tweeting-entirely-personal-things

        You might not get the job in the first place if the pre-engagement "Adverse Media Check" discloses that you hold Personal or Political Opinions that your potential employer disagrees with.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: you-could-be-sacked-for-tweeting-entirely-personal-things

          This is why I always post as Anonymo... oh, crap! Forgot again.

        2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: you-could-be-sacked-for-tweeting-entirely-personal-things

          You might not get the job in the first place if the pre-engagement "Adverse Media Check" discloses that you hold Personal or Political Opinions that your potential employer disagrees with.

          Fixed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science fiction is rapidly becoming reality

      that day has already come and gone.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Odd.

    Most people use a seismograph or three ...

    1. tfewster
      Thumb Up

      Re: Odd.

      And there are plenty of "free" nations with seismographs ready to call out on a nation they consider "rogue".

      But that's so Web 1.0. EMP pulses from nukes are a real threat to Skynet, so it needs something that ignore false positives like normal tectonic plate movement.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Odd.

        And there are plenty of "free" nations with seismographs ready to call out on a nation they consider "rogue".

        Back in the day, when it looked like South Africa was building a nuclear test site "hidden" out in the desert, Kruschev(?) sent a letter, hand delivered, as a matter of urgency to the British government to let them know and, as the ex colonial power, most likely to be able to bring pressure to bear. Neither UK nor yanks had spotted this development and were alarmed and panicked into confirming ASAP.

    2. Evil Auditor

      Re: Odd.

      Exactly.

      And even if this newfangled detector AI stuff is better at sniffing whatever is going on than the current monitoring of decay products, the detected test activities still need to be attributed to a location to be meaningful.

      1. Giovani Tapini

        Re: Odd.

        Was the AI better?

        I understood that it was equally good. That saves a lot of skilled labour that's hard to obtain, and justifies a few more bunkers.

        TBH as good as people is still far better than a lot of other attempts at AI though so still impressed.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "That saves a lot of skilled labour that's hard to obtain, and justifies a few more bunkers."

          Yes, that sounds about the size of it.

          A lot of tedious data entry otherwise.

          Of maybe just proving that where there's a research grant going begging someone will write a proposal that fits it like a glove.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Odd.

        Precisely...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One man's Rogue Nation

    is another's Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    AI training

    I assume it will be set to ignore tests from Israeli devices.

    US (and UK) have yet to officially publicly confirm Israel has nukes (as Israel has never actually declared the fact, even though plenty of evidence to imply they do)

    1. Giovani Tapini

      Re: AI training

      Well, given most of Israel's arms come from USA they may have plausible deniability that they are theirs regardless of any confirmation of existence on their soil. They are just stored, borrowed, used for training purposes etc.

    2. The Bloke next door

      Re: AI training

      As inferred by people like Mordechai Vanunu ?

  7. SkippyBing

    Testing?

    I mean I get that they can trawl through past data where they absolutely know what was happening. But that assumes they know when all the bombs have gone off in the past, otherwise all they're proving is that the neural net can do what we already can, which doesn't seem like a massive advance.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Er wasn't this how supernovae were found ?

    In the 1960s ? A satellite intended to spot dodgy nuclear emissions actually found a cosmic explanation ?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about a nice game of chess?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHWjlCaIrQo

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WarGames

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