Today’s risk analysis shows that “smart” modern farm machinery is susceptible to malicious hackers. This leaves global supply chains at risk.
The study, published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, warned that hackers could exploit flaws within agricultural hardware used for planting and harvesting crops. It also warned that hackers could exploit flaws in agricultural hardware such as drones, robotic harvesters, and automatic crop sprayers.
“The idea that intelligent machines could run farms is not science fiction.” “The next generation of autonomous agbots and decision-support systems for farmers are being developed by large companies,” Dr Asaf Zachor, from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.
He added that “But so far, no one seems to have asked the question “are there any risks associated avec a rapid deployment agricultural AI?”
The UK government, and the FBI warned that cyber-attacks are increasing.
The authors stated that despite the promise of artificial intelligence (AI), which can improve crop management and increase agricultural productivity, there are still potential risks. New technologies should be properly tested in experimental settings to make sure they are secure and safe against unintended consequences, cyber-attacks and accidental failures.
Research outlined a list of risks to be aware of when developing AI for agricultural purposes. It also provided guidance on how to deal with them. Cyber-attackers can disrupt commercial farms by poisoning data, shutting down sprayers and autonomous drones, or using robotic harvesters.
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These risks can be mitigated by the recommendation of the authors that “white-hat hackers” help companies uncover security flaws during development.
The potential for autonomous machines to improve the working conditions of farmers has been hailed as a game changer. Ag-bots, advanced machinery including drones, sensors and other tools, can already collect information about crops and assist farmers in making decisions. Self-driving combine harvesters are also more efficient than manual operators. This makes farming more cost-efficient, optimizes production, and minimizes waste.
AI technologies and precision farming offer significant benefits in terms of food and nutrition security for the estimated two billion people who are affected by food insecurity.
AI is being called the “way to revolutionise agriculture.” We should carefully consider the potential risks when we use this technology on a large-scale and try to minimize them early in the technology design,” stated Dr Sean O hEigeartaigh (executive director of CSER) and coauthor of the new research.