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Sunday, October 1st, 2023

U.S. Sens. Tillis, Hickenlooper press Biden administration to reduce threats from artificial intelligence

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Worried about the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to disrupt cyber infrastructure and compromise critical data, U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) recently wrote to Acting National Cyber Director (ONCD) Kemba Walden seeking information and action.

Foremost, they wanted to understand how the country could work to prevent emerging AI capabilities from being used in sophisticated cybersecurity attacks, not to block development of AI outright. Rather, they sought a reckoning with the fact that advances in AI capabilities offer opportunities for attackers and defenders alike. After all, cybersecurity professionals have long used tools and techniques backed by AI to prevent and respond to malicious cyber actions, and organizations rely on it for data insights. Even in their letter, one of the pair’s focuses was the question of how defenders of critical infrastructure could better use AI to secure systems.

“Our country will benefit enormously from broadening the technical skills across our workforce by making software development more accessible and secure,” the senators wrote. “However, bad actors can also leverage generative AI technology to accelerate their attempts to undermine established cybersecurity protections. As a result, attackers could profit by stealing money, data, and intellectual property from everyday Americans and the small businesses that power our economy.”

In recent years, Congress has begun to plumb the idea of regulating AI, holding hearings with experts and more, but the senatorial pair’s letter urges increased coordination between the White House and Congress on the issue.

The senators also asked Walden how the Office of the National Cyber Director is tracking AI-enabled cyberattacks by foreign adversaries or criminals, if ONCD is preparing strategies for state and local governments on the issue and what recommendations it has for private and public industries who might be hit by AI-enabled cyberattacks, among others.