US Homeland Security creates first AI Task Force

The head of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of the first Artificial Intelligence Task Force. The new task force aims to protect the nation from security threats caused by cutting-edge advancements in AI technology, like ChatGPT.

US DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas broke the news during a State of Homeland Security address for the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC Friday.

The Secretary said while adversaries continue to exploit the innovations of AI technology, the evolution of the DHS threat landscape will continue to accelerate.

“We must address the many ways in which artificial intelligence will drastically alter the threat landscape and augment the arsenal of tools we possess to succeed in the face of these threats,“ Mayorkas said.

“The Task Force…will drive specific applications of AI to advance our critical homeland security missions,” he said.

The security agency plans to utilize AI on all fronts, from protecting critical infrastructure to screening cargo to ferreting out products made with slave labor.

The Secretary gave examples of how the department will integrate the AI Task Force into current missions.

AI will be used to help secure electric grids and water supply systems, both considered to be potential cyber targets of state-sponsored hacking groups.

The agency plans to use the technology to enhance the integrity of the nation’s supply chains, especially in regards to the broader trade environment.

“We will seek to deploy AI to more ably screen cargo, identify the importation of goods produced with forced labor, and manage risk,” Mayorkas said.

There are also plans to leverage AI abilities to help reduce the flow of drugs, such as fentanyl, from coming into the US.

The DHS will use AI to detect fentanyl shipments, as well as identify and inhibit the flow of the precursor chemicals used to make the deadly drug around the world.

The agency also plans to use AI to help disrupt key points of drug operations belonging to the criminal supply chains.

Mayorkas told the council he is “Deeply fascinated by generative AI’s promise of new advances and discoveries, greatly concerned for its capacity for error and its impact on our humanity, and keenly alert to its potential for harm in the hands of an adversary.”

“What will this ‘explosive’ growth mean for our safety and security over the next 20 years?” Mayorkas questioned.

Since OpenAI released its popular AI chatbot, ChatGPT, last November, government officials and think tanks around the world have been scrambling to find what Mayorkas calls “the sweet spot” between allowing innovation to flow freely and regulating the lightening development of AI technology in the name of public safety.

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