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U.S. Can’t “Defend or Compete” Against AI-enabled Cyber Threats, Report Warns

America is not prepared to “defend or compete” against artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled cyberattacks, a new report said, calling it a “tough reality we must face.”

The report, compiled by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, warned that the U.S. is a “long way” from being AI ready, despite some advancements in the technology. In seemingly sounding a wake up call, the commission said the nation will not be able to defend against AI-powered threats “without ubiquitous AI capabilities and new warfighting paradigms.”

A bipartisan group of 15 technologists, national security professionals, business executives and academic leaders worked on the report. The commission, which sprang from the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, includes representatives from Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Oracle.

The exhaustive, 750-page report has lofty intentions: According to the commissioners, it presents a strategy to defend against AI threats, responsibly use AI for national security, and win global leadership of the technology “for the sake of our prosperity, security and welfare.” As expected, China’s current leadership in AI development worries the commission. “We must win the AI competition that is intensifying strategic competition with China,” the report said. “China’s plan, resources and progress should concern all Americans.”

The report advocates for creating a Technology Competitiveness Council to address the challenges of AI, a new Digital Service Academy and Civilian National Reserve to develop technology talent and calls for some $35 billion in federal investment and incentives to reinvigorate domestic microchip fabrication to compete with China.

Among its key recommendations:

  • Develop a new national strategy for the global information domain.
  • Create a Joint Inter-agency Task Force and Operations Center.
  • The State Department should lead a global effort to counter disinformation.
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency should coordinate multiple research programs to detect, attribute and disrupt AI-enabled malign misinformation campaigns.
  • Create a task force to study the use of AI and complementary technologies.

“This is not a time for incremental toggles to federal research budgets or adding a few new positions in the Pentagon for Silicon Valley technologists,” the commissioners wrote. “This will be expensive and require a significant change in mindset. America needs White House leadership, Cabinet-member action, and bipartisan Congressional support to win the AI era.”

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