Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security for the United States, announced on Friday that the organization will establish a task force to research the use of artificial intelligence for anything from safeguarding vital infrastructure to inspecting cargo for items created with slave labor.
Although artificial intelligence is not a new concept, the dramatic rise in popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in recent months has caused governments all over the world to scramble to figure out how to best employ the technology for good while preventing it from escalating crime and disinformation.
“Our department will lead in the responsible use of AI to secure the homeland and in defending against the malicious use of this transformational technology,” Mayorkas said, adding that the technology would “dramatically alter the threat landscape.”
Mayorkas stated that the Artificial Intelligence Task Force would also look at how AI could be used to scan incoming cargo for illegal items like fentanyl or commodities produced using slave labor.
Mayorkas has pushed for measures to deploy AI to protect water supply and electric networks, both of which have been suspected of being potential targets for enemies.
“We also need to act today,” he continued. “The rapid pace of technological change—the pivotal moment we are now in—requires it.”
Mayorkas stated on Thursday that the new task force may also look into the possibility of using AI for evil intent and develop strategies to prevent this. Any regulation of AI, according to him, would need to strike a balance between innovation-stifling guardrails and a “sweet spot” where the government could create them.
According to Mayorkas, artificial intelligence is currently in “a nascent stage” and it is too early to predict whether the negative effects would outweigh the positive ones.
“The power is extraordinary,” he declared.