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Senator Hassan Discusses Artificial Intelligence’s Potential Impact on National Security, Workforce Development, and Government Operations During Homeland Security Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today discussed the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on cybersecurity, workers, and government operations with top AI experts during a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing.

To watch Senator Hassan’s questions, click here.

AI’s Impact on Cybersecurity and National Security

Senator Hassan asked Dr. Jason Matheny, President and CEO of RAND Corporation, about the risks and possibilities that AI poses for cybersecurity.

Dr. Matheny shared that if AI continues to improve its ability to develop software and computer code, “it’s quite possible that the offensive cyber capabilities that today are accessible only to state level actor offensive cyber programs could be accessible to a much larger number of actors.”

He said that while this development could pose a risk to critical cybersecurity infrastructure, “The same tools can also be used to scale up cyber defense. And I think this will be a cat-and-mouse race to figure out – are the applications on the defensive side keeping up with the applications on the offensive side.”  

Senator Hassan also asked Dr. Matheny if there are ways to use AI for intelligence analysis, which could help strengthen national security. Dr. Matheny said that AI could be used to speed up the analysis of intelligence information from open-source data, which is data that is publicly available. Dr. Matheny pointed out that open-source data is being used to help countries like Ukraine in their war against Russia, including by allowing Ukraine and its allies to track Russian troop movements and document potential war crimes.

AI’s Impact on the Workforce Displacement & Development

Senator Hassan went on to raise concerns about workplace changes due to AI. “There is growing concern among workers in many industries that AI can fundamentally change the nature of work in unpredictable ways, […] do you have recommendations for how the federal government should be addressing challenges that companies and employees face from the use of AI in the workplace?”  

Dr. Suresh Venkatasubramanian from Brown University responded that the “federal government can invest effort and research into helping workers train for our STEM-enabled world, and I think the federal government is doing that and we can do definitely a lot more on that. I think it is even more important that that training and that access to those skills is widely distributed.”

Senator Hassan helped lead bipartisan efforts to develop and pass into law the CHIPS and Science Act, which includes important investment for workforce training in STEM fields.

Ensuring Government Efficiency in AI Research and Deployment

Senator Hassan also asked about how the federal government can best coordinate between agencies to make research and deployment of AI programs more effective and efficient. In response, Dr. Matheny discussed the need to ensure that AI tools created in one agency can be used by other agencies, as well as ensuring that standards, such as using AI in a particular application, are harmonized across agencies.

“One of the ways of harmonizing this would be through federal procurement and ensure that we are using a consistent set of standards. Another would be through agencies like the National Institute of Standards and Technology that have a key role to play in creating test frameworks and test beds where we can robustly evaluate the performance of these AI systems,” Dr. Matheny said.