Eighty computers have been lost, stolen or gone "missing" at a major US nuclear weapons lab, the nonprofit watchdog group Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has said.
The group posted online a copy of what they say is an internal letter outlining what appear to be worrisome losses at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the state of New Mexico.
The letter says that 13 lab computers were lost or stolen during the past year, three of the machines taken from an employee's home in January. Another 67 computers are deemed "missing."
"The magnitude of exposure and risk to the laboratory is at best unclear as little data on these losses has been collected or pursued," the letter dated February 3 maintains.
The letter, addressed to Department of Energy security officials, contends that "cyber security issues were not engaged in a timely manner" because the computer losses were treated as a "property management issue."
What became of the missing computers and the "security ramifications of each of the 80 systems" was to be detailed in a written report to lab officials by February 6, according to the letter.
AFP telephone calls to the lab on Friday in search of comment were not returned.
Los Alamos was created as a secret facility during World War II and was the site for the Manhattan Project that gave birth to the first nuclear bombs.
It is a major center for research related to national security, outer space, renewable energy, medicine, nanotechnology, and supercomputing.
World leaders have started to get serious about nuclear risk in recent years, but current risks from synthetic biology and all-but-certain near-future (2015+) risks from nanotechnology and AI are pretty much ignored. When the new bio or nuclear 9/11 happens, I'll be able to look back and say that I was constantly sounding the alarm and proposing countermeasures. Will you?
Recently, in The Global Spiral, an online magazine that barely anyone reads (according to Alexa.org), transhumanists responded to recent criticism of our philosophy. This was a good issue and I liked a lot of the articles. Immediately relevant, however, is Mark Walker's article, "Ship of Fools: Why Transhumanism is the Best Bet to Prevent the Extinction of Civilization". Walker is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation, the only organization on the planet devoted to advancing a comprehensive set of safeguards to extinction risks. I am Fundraising Director, United States for the Lifeboat Foundation.