OUR PICKSDeliberate Pandemics | Not Ready for Deep-Fake Tsunami | Kook Waterloo, and more

Published 22 November 2022

··How a Deliberate Pandemic Could Crush Societies and What to Do About It
Malicious individuals intent on causing new pandemics can cause catastrophic harm

··America May Not Be Ready for the Looming Tsunami of “Deep Fake”
Deep fakes that could have unintended economic, social and geopolitical consequences

··The Strengths and Limitations of Approaches to Detect Deepfake Text
Automatic creation of text raises serious concerns in terms of security and misinformation

··Start Moving to Quantum-Safe Cryptography, White House Tells Feds
Protect digital infrastructure from quantum attacks

··When Election Deniers Concede
Is the democracy crisis over?

··Kook Waterloo
Election denialism might be fading

··The Diminishing Returns of Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric
A majority of voters want balanced solutions

··Climate Models Could Help Predict Future Disease Outbreaks
Lessons from climate modeling could be used to help prepare for future disease outbreaks

··How J. Edgar Hoover Went from Hero to Villain
Hoover was once celebrated as a champion of freedom

··Fake it ’Til You Break It
Tech’s dangerous cult of genius

How a Deliberate Pandemic Could Crush Societies and What to Do About It  (Kevin Esvelt, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
Pandemics can begin in many ways. A wild animal could infect a hunter, or a farm animal might spread a pathogen to a market worker. Researchers in a lab or in the field could be exposed to viruses and unwittingly pass them to others. Natural spillovers and accidents have been responsible for every historical plague, each of which spread from a single individual to afflict much of humanity. But the devastation from past outbreaks pales in comparison to the catastrophic harm that could be inflicted by malicious individuals intent on causing new pandemics.
Thousands of people can now assemble infectious viruses from a genome sequence and commercially available synthetic DNA, and numerous projects aim to find and publicly identify new viruses that could cause pandemics by characterizing their growth, transmission, and immune evasion capabilities in the laboratory. Once these projects succeed, the world will face a significant new threat: If a single terrorist with the necessary skills were to release a new virus equivalent to SARS-CoV-2, which has claimed 20 million lives worldwide, that person would have killed more people than if they were to detonate a nuclear warhead in a dense city. If they were to release numerous such viruses across multiple travel hubs, the resulting pandemics could not plausibly be contained, and would spread much faster than even the most rapidly produced biomedical countermeasures. And if one of those viruses spread as easily as the omicron variant—which rapidly infected millions of people within weeks of being identified—but had the lethality of smallpox, which killed about 30 percent of those infected, the subsequent loss of essential workers could trigger the collapse of food, water, and power distribution networks—and with them, societies.

America May Not Be Ready for the Looming Tsunami of “Deep Fake”  (Jared Mondschein, The Hill)
Open AI’s recent release of the DALL-E 2 text-to-image generator and Meta’s subsequent announcement of its “Make a Video” tool could erode barriers to creating “deep fakes,” synthetic images or video content created through artificial intelligence.
These new products, along with similar tools being developed by other companies, may provide significant advances in promoting the next wave of digital creators. At the same time, they could be exploited to create deep fakes that could have unintended economic, social and geopolitical consequences.