Born secret — the heavy burden of bomb physics
How data restrictions shaped nuclear discovery, energy research and more.
In March 1950, an official from the Atomic Energy Commission — then the guardian of US nuclear secrets — oversaw the burning of thousands of copies of the magazine Scientific American. The contention? They contained information so secret that its publication could jeopardize the free world.
Several statements in an article about the hydrogen bomb had raised red flags with government officials, even though they had all been reported publicly before. The government’s concern was not about what was said, but about who said it. Physicist Hans Bethe, who wrote the article, had been the head of the theoretical division at the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico during the Manhattan Project, the top-secret Second World War programme that led to the atomic bomb.
Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare
Artificial intelligence is changing the world we live in. It will redefine the workplace and have significant implications for everything we do, probably by the end of this decade. Some AI applications are already a part of our everyday lives, such as intelligent car navigation systems.
So, what is artificial intelligence? AI can be defined as ‘the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence’. AI has in fact been around for several decades. The IBM chess-playing computer called ‘Deep Blue’ defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov as far back as 1997. But the development of AI has been accelerating rapidly in recent years with a substantial increase in the number of real-world applications where AI is now practical.
According to the US Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the reasons for this are more massive datasets, increased computing power, improved machine-learning algorithms, and greater access to open-source code libraries.