• New Institute to Lead Government, Industry Effort to Make 5G More Secure

    5G wireless technology promises to deliver a technology revolution in wireless communication. Already, wireless carriers and equipment manufacturers are incorporating 5G capabilities in their devices and working to construct national 5G networks. As the 5G revolution moves forward, a national challenge will emerge to develop and validate 5G security protocols and data protection technologies. To respond to this challenge, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has established the INL Wireless Security Institute to lead and coordinate government, academic, and private industry research efforts fostering more secure and reliable 5G wireless technology.

  • National Security Chip Plant Gets an Upgrade

    Sandia National Laboratories has completed phase one of an anticipated three-year upgrade at its plant responsible for making integrated circuits. The upgrade will align Sandia with industry, but the Lab notes that the decision to upgrade was driven by the Lab’s national security mission. Six years of planning ensured the conversion would not affect production of components needed for national defense. Chips produced at Sandia can be found in the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

  • An Umbrella to Combat Warming

    Research examines the possibility of spraying tiny particles into the stratosphere to block the sun a bit and cool the planet. Shielding the Earth with a mist of tiny particles sounds like the stuff of sci-fi movies, but since it was first proposed in the 1950s the idea has gained traction among scientists around the world to shield us not from extraterrestrials, as Hollywood might have it, but from the sun. Known as solar geoengineering, the concept is to send planes into the stratosphere — 6 to 31 miles above the Earth — to spray particles that can reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.

  • How to Dismantle a Nuclear Bomb: Team Successfully Tests New Method for Verification of Weapons Reduction

    How do weapons inspectors verify that a nuclear bomb has been dismantled? An unsettling answer is: They don’t, for the most part. When countries sign arms reduction pacts, they do not typically grant inspectors complete access to their nuclear technologies, for fear of giving away military secrets. Now MIT researchers have successfully tested a new high-tech method that could help inspectors verify the destruction of nuclear weapons. The method uses neutron beams to establish certain facts about the warheads in question — and, crucially, uses an isotopic filter that physically encrypts the information in the measured data.

  • What’s at Stake in Trump’s War on Huawei: Control of the Global Computer-Chip Industry

    Silicon Valley may now be more popularly associated with software companies such as Google and Facebook but it takes its name from the material most used to make semiconductors. Semiconductors – or computer chips – power everything from mobile phones to military systems. The semiconductor industry sits at the center of the modern world. This point is key to appreciating what’s going on in the US government’s battle with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

  • Containing a Nuclear Accident with Ground-up Minerals

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a promising new way to prevent the spread of radioactive contamination and contain the hot molten mass that develops within a nuclear reactor during a catastrophic accident. A team of scientists discovered and patented a process for injecting sand-like minerals into the core of a nuclear reactor during an accident to contain and slow down the progression of a meltdown.

  • China’s Access to Foreign AI Technology

    Within the pages of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Report, presented in January of this year by former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, is a section titled ‘Emerging and Disruptive Technologies and Threats to Economic Competitiveness’.  The assessment summarizes the Intelligence Community’s concerns about AI and Autonomy. In an example of just what the U.S. Government is worried about, the Justice Department recently filed a criminal complaint against a Chinese government official and associates accusing them of trying to get U.S. universities to sponsor visas for people they described as Chinese research scholars, when in fact, says DOJ, the people had been sent to recruit American scientists. 

  • Sniffing Out Signs of Trouble

    A NIST researcher is conducting the first field test of a high-tech sniffing device called a PLOT-cryo — short for “porous layer open tubular cryogenic adsorption.” This NIST-invented device can be used to detect very low concentrations of chemicals in the air. The technology offers a new way to screen shipping containers at ports of entry.

  • Keeping TSA Detection Systems in Check

    As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens nearly two million people each day, officers are faced with the challenge of finding even the smallest sign of a threat. Microscopic particles of explosives can cling to a nefarious actor despite their best intentions to conceal any evidence of hidden contraband on their person or in their bags. S&T chemist Dr. Jim Deline developed a novel method to more efficiently test TSA detection equipment.

  • Science Fiction Has Become Dystopian Fact

    So which dystopia are we living in? Most educated people have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. So influential have these books been that we are inclined to view all disconcerting new phenomena as either “Orwellian” or “Huxleyan”. If you suspect we shall lose our freedom to a brutally repressive state, grinding its boot into our faces, you think of George. If you think we shall lose it to a hedonistic consumer culture, complete with test-tube designer babies, you quote Aldous. “My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power,” Huxley wrote in a letter to Orwell in 1949. Niall Ferguson agrees: “As I reflect on the world in 2019, I am struck by the wisdom of [Huxley’s] words. In Xi Jinping’s China, we see Totalitarianism 2.0. The boot on the face remains a possibility, of course, but it is needed less and less as the system of social credit expands, aggregating and analyzing all the digital data that Chinese citizens generate.”

  • Making the Internet Faster, More Secure

    A collaborative effort aims to create a nationwide research infrastructure that will enable the computer science and networking community to develop and test novel architectures that could yield a faster, more secure internet. Dubbed “FABRIC,” the four-year, $20 million project is intended to support exploratory research, at scale, in computer networking, distributed computing systems, and next-generation applications.

  • Determining the Who, Why, and How Behind Manipulated Media

    The threat of manipulated multi-modal media – which includes audio, images, video, and text – is increasing as automated manipulation technologies become more accessible, and social media continues to provide a ripe environment for viral content sharing. The creators of convincing media manipulations are no longer limited to groups with significant resources and expertise. Today, an individual content creator has access to capabilities that could enable the development of an altered media asset that creates a believable, but falsified, interaction or scene. A new program seeks to develop technologies capable of automating the detection, attribution, and characterization of falsified media assets.

  • Constitution Day 2019: The Hidden Domestic Surveillance Crisis

    As we mark the 232nd anniversary of the signing of America’s governing charter in 1787, we have ample evidence that it continues to be violated by the federal officials charged with upholding it. The FBI’s 2018-2020 “Consolidated Strategy Guide,” for example, not only references the targeting of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIE’s) but also those designated as engaged in “Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Extremism,” “Abortion Extremism,” or “Animal Rights/Environmental Extremism.” “That the FBI is using an ideological test of its own devising to determine whether a person seeking products or services on ‘the Dark Web’ is a threat raises a host of potential constitutional issues, including whether the monitoring of a person’s online activities based on their ideology runs afoul of the First Amendment or the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision,” Patrick Eddington writes, adding: “If we are on the cusp of a de facto COINTELPRO 2.0,  the infamous Cold War-era FBI program of domestic spying and organizational disruption, we need to end it. Now.”

  • Will Artificial Intelligence Imperil Nuclear Deterrence?

    Nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence are two technologies that have scared the living daylights out of people for a long time. These fears have been most vividly expressed through imaginative novels, films, and television shows. while strategists have generally offered more sober explorations of the future relationship between AI and nuclear weapons, some of the most widely received musings on the issue, including a recent call for an AI-enabled “dead hand” to update America’s aging nuclear command, control, and communications infrastructure, tend to obscure more than they illuminate due to an insufficient understanding of the technologies involved.

  • AI Startups to Fight Against Online Disinformation

    On both sides of the Atlantic, governments, foundations, and companies are looking at how to solve the problem of online dis/misinformation. Some emphasize the demand side of the problem, believing it important to focus on consumer behavior and the use of media literacy and fact-checking. Some focus on legal remedies such as platform-liability and hate-speech laws as well as privacy protections. Others try to raise the quality of journalism in the hope that creating more reliable content. There is another kind of fix, offered by small companies in the information ecosystem: Using natural language processing as well as human intelligence to identify and, in some cases, block false or inflammatory content online.