AI presented researchers with thousands of possible VX-like chemicals (Verge article)

"Of course, it does require some expertise. If somebody were to put this together without knowing anything about chemistry, they would ultimately probably generate stuff that was not very useful. And there’s still the next step of having to get those molecules synthesized. Finding a potential drug or potential new toxic molecule is one thing; the next step of synthesis — actually creating a new molecule in the real world — would be another barrier."


"The big gap to start with is that you really don’t know if these molecules are actually toxic or not. There’s going to be some amount of false positives. If we’re walking ourselves through what a bad agent would be thinking or doing, they would have to make a decision on which of these new molecules they would want to synthesize ultimately.

"As far as synthesis routes, this could be a make it or break it. If you find something that looks like a chemical warfare agent and try to get that synthesized, chances are it’s not going to happen. A lot of the chemical building blocks of these chemical warfare agents are well known and are watched. They’re regulated. But there’s so many synthesis companies. As long as it doesn’t look like a chemical warfare agent, they’re most likely going to just synthesize it and send it right back because who knows what the molecule is being used for, right?"

"We just want more researchers to acknowledge and be aware of potential misuse. When you start working in the chemistry space, you do get informed about misuse of chemistry, and you’re sort of responsible for making sure you avoid that as much as possible. In machine learning, there’s nothing of the sort. There’s no guidance on misuse of the technology. "