Just last week (28th September 2023), the National Security Agency (NSA) announced that it would be opening an Artificial Intelligence Security Centre in order to oversee the development and integration of AI capabilities within US national security systems.
The centre aims to become the focal point for developing best practices, evaluation methodology and risk frameworks with the aim of promoting secure adoption of new AI capabilities across the national security enterprise and the defence industrial base within the US.
With an ever-growing interest in AI taking the country by storm, the centre will also work to consolidate the agency's various artificial intelligence, security-related activities.
US working to stay ahead in the AI development race
"The AI Security Centre will work closely with US industry, national labs, academia across the [intelligence community] and Department of Defense and select foreign partners," said National Security Agency Director Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone.
During a discussion hosted by the National Press Club in Washington, Nakasone highlighted how the unique talent and expertise at the NSA makes the agency well suited to support the government's effort to ensure that the US maintains a competitive edge in AI.
US officials have already emphasised the increasing role AI is having in shaping the national security landscape within the country and have therefore taken steps to shape the future of the emerging technology.
Nakasone noted in the discussion that the most recent strategies guiding US national security, defence and intelligence emphasise the increasingly consequential role of AI.
In his statement, Nakasone provided further details about the centre, saying that “today, the US leads in this critical area, but this lead should not be taken for granted.”
He explains: “our adversaries, who have for decades used theft and exploitation of our intellectual property to advance their interests, will seek to co-opt our advances in AI and corrupt our application of it.”
The new centre will also be part of the NSA’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Centre and hopes to offer a way to address “both the opportunities and challenges of AI as industry rockets forward with innovation.”
“We must build a robust understanding of AI vulnerabilities, foreign intelligence threats to these AI systems and ways to encounter the threat in order to have AI security,” Nakasone adds. “We must also ensure that malicious foreign actors can’t steal America’s innovative AI capabilities to do so.”
This news comes in the wake of US President Biden announcing limitations on the country’s investments in The People’s Republic of China to restrict the country from developing further surveillance technologies that the US government believes as a threat to national security. The People’s Republic of China is opposed to these restrictions.
As AI and machine learning (AI/ML) tools become more integrated into business operations, there are concerns over the risks they could pose to data security. These actions highlight how governments worldwide are starting to take increasing levels of action to balance innovation with safety to ensure minimal security threats.
However, it is still important to continue the sharing of knowledge on AI and similar digital systems - provided these activities are ethical and safe.
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