Machine learning can help expose illicit nuclear trade, says new report

January 22, 2021, 12:06PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) last week released Signals in the Noise: Preventing Nuclear Proliferation with Machine Learning & Publicly Available Information, a 22-page report that provides a blueprint for identifying high-risk or illicit nuclear trade. (Machine learning can be defined as a branch of artificial intelligence focused on building applications that learn from data and improve their accuracy over time without being programmed to do so.)

The main takeaway: According to the report, NTI and C4ADS worked together for two years on a pilot project to demonstrate the viability of this new approach to nuclear nonproliferation efforts. “The project succeeded,” the authors write in the report’s executive summary. “Trade network analysis—and the machine learning processes that supported it—uncovered previously unknown entities of elevated risk within millions of transactions. The work showed that automated data preparation could save hundreds of analyst hours and help identify twice as many potentially high-risk entities as previous manual efforts.”

Recommendations: The report calls on the leaders of nonproliferation efforts around the world to do the following:

■ Integrate publicly available information more deeply into existing monitoring and verification regimes.

■ Use modern analytical approaches, including machine learning, to enable using big data at scale.

■ Build partnerships to allow analysts to access shared data.

■ Embrace the use of publicly available information and modern analytical tools for future international nonproliferation initiatives.

Related Articles

ANS presents webinar on the NPT

February 12, 2021, 9:31AMANS News

An expert panel will look back at the origins of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in an ANS webinar to be held on Monday, February 15, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (EST). Register now...

Statement on the death of Secretary George P. Shultz

Statement from American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and CEO Craig Piercy

February 8, 2021, 11:18AMPress Releases

ANS remembers the life of George P. Shultz and mourns his passing. A nonproliferation hero and renowned statesman, Shultz leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire for generations...

ANS member Joyce Connery appointed as DNFSB chair

Game changer in addressing I&C common cause failure protection

January 25, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

President Biden has appointed Joyce Connery as chair of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB). Connery, an ANS member since 2012, was appointed to the board in August 2015 for a...