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John Wilkes Bot, or can’t someone else do it?

John Wilkes Bot, or can’t someone else do it?

I feel pretty drained by the 4th of July, but in a good way all things considered. What better way to celebrate our nation's independence than that most American form of entertainment, explosions.

Speaking of things that are inherently and exclusively American in nature that I could not escape in the news cycle this week: ammunition vending machines.

I cannot speak to how long this has been “a thing,” but I can tell you the concept of just such a machine was played as a joke in a video game during the aughts where an animatronic clown vending machine sold you bullets in an Ayn Rand-ian flavored dystopia. Naturally, art imitates life in the worst ways. According to the article I read, these are AI-powered vending machines designed to dispense ammunition to customers with valid IDs over the age of 21. Coming to a supermarket near you, assuming you live in Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and this week, Colorado.

I will forego the usual song and dance in this blog and just say that, above other perhaps obvious concerns, there’s a worry that these machines will be targets for cybersecurity attacks from hackers, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase, “attack surface.” Our obsession with outsourcing every single obligation is really a joke that tells itself. AI might be the buzzword of the decade, but it really does beg the question of how far down the rabbit hole things will go.

A scenario I would entertain: You use a 3D printer to construct a gun, you send your AI-powered security robot to the grocery store to hack into the ammunition machine for bullets (they can probably do that). A silly scenario, absolutely (for now), but we might have to reckon one day with an AI assassin, for anyone with the knowledge and access, you could have your very own Terminator.

One who still forgot the milk at the store.  


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