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Senator Hassan Highlights AI Threats to National Security and Public Safety at Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chair of the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Subcommittee, led a bipartisan hearing examining how advanced technologies —such as artificial intelligence, quantum technology, and bioengineering — may pose risks to national security. At the hearing, Senator Hassan highlighted the need for stronger AI safeguards, given recent incidents where researchers have shown that bad actors could evade current AI safeguards and jailbreak AI systems to get them to provide information on how to produce bioweapons and other dangerous materials.

“Although there has been considerable Congressional attention paid to many of the public safety risks posed by artificial intelligence, there has been less focus on so-called ‘catastrophic’ risks posed by AI – such as the ability of AI to help terrorists develop and use unconventional weapons,” said Senator Hassan at the hearing. “I’m working on a framework to support research into safer AI that – in its fundamental design – cannot easily be abused by criminals and cannot easily behave in unexpected ways that would harm the public. Congress needs to look closely at ways to require AI to be designed in a fundamentally safer way, and – in time – require all AI hardware to be restricted to running only fundamentally safe systems.”

At the hearing, which featured leading AI experts, Senator Hassan discussed ways that the government can help mitigate the public safety risks from AI jailbreaks, as well as the threats posed by other advanced technology such as drone-based threats and quantum technology.

The hearing is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing work as Chair of the Emerging Threats Subcommittee to safeguard national and homeland security. Senator Hassan successfully passed into law her Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, which strengthens national security by preparing the federal government’s defenses against quantum-computing-enabled data breaches. Additionally, this year’s Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act included a bipartisan measure that Senator Hassan authored to prepare for emerging national security threats posed by quantum technology. She has also discussed the potential impacts of AI on cybersecurity, workers, and government operations during previous hearings with top AI experts. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan discussed ways to invest in quantum technology and cybersecurity in an official Congressional trip to key sites across the country.