By R.A. Norton

From Food Safety magazine: The headline splashed across the front page of The Sun, a British newspaper known for sensationalism, had everything necessary to get the public’s attention. Entitled, “ROBOT WARS – Russia could use robots to poison food for ‘untraceable’ AI assassinations in ‘chilling new Cold War,’” the article included robots, war, Russia, assassinations, a brave computer engineer presented as an expert warning the world, and apocalyptic visions reminiscent of The Matrix.

Obviously, my critique is tongue-in-cheek, but the topic of intentional food tampering is deadly serious. Computer scientist Jeremy Straub said Russia conceivably could use robots for “untraceable” assassinations of state exiles. He added that technology could be used to hack into a meal-ordering system as a way to tamper with the food. Through the wizardry of artificial intelligence (AI), he suggested, ingredients could be switched; perhaps someone with a peanut allergy could be served a burger with peanut residue. The mistake would appear benign, he said.

The article is certainly timely, coming in the wake of the very public nerve agent attack, presumably by Russia, on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in London. Unfortunately, the suggestions don’t make sense when examined, probably because Straub or the article’s author are not familiar with the food business. READ MORE