Potential cyber security risk to agriculture

report by the University of Cambridge highlights that internet-connected technology that is increasingly used in the agricultural industry could be vulnerable to exploitation, if not sufficiently protected.

This is important for ultimately assuring food chain security, in which agriculture plays a vital role.

A new risk analysis, published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, warns that the future use of artificial intelligence in agriculture comes with substantial potential risks for farms, farmers and food security that are poorly understood and under-appreciated.

“The idea of intelligent machines running farms is not science fiction. Large companies are already pioneering the next generation of autonomous ag-bots and decision support systems that will replace humans in the field,” said Dr Asaf Tzachor in the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), first author of the paper.

“But so far no-one seems to have asked the question ‘are there any risks associated with a rapid deployment of agricultural AI?’” he added.

Despite the huge promise of AI for improving crop management and agricultural productivity, potential risks must be addressed responsibly and new technologies properly tested in experimental settings to ensure they are safe, and secure against accidental failures, unintended consequences, and cyber-attacks, the authors say. 

Luke Simmonds

Blogger at www.systemtek.co.uk

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