WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the agency would create a task force to figure out how to use artificial intelligence to do everything from protecting critical infrastructure to screening cargo to ferret out products made with slave labor.
While artificial intelligence isn’t new, the sudden popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in recent months has sent officials around the world scrambling to see how they can best use the technology for good and prevent it from turbocharging disinformation and criminal activity.
Mayorkas said the technology would “drastically alter the threat landscape,” adding: “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 the Artificial Intelligence Task Force would also explore how AI could be used to do a better job of doing work like screening cargo coming into the country for illicit goods, like fentanyl or products made with slave labor.
Mayorkas also urged efforts to use AI to secure electric grids and water supply systems, both of which have been feared to be potential targets of adversaries.
“The rapid pace of technological change – the pivotal moment we are now in – requires that we also act today,” he said.
Mayorkas said on Thursday the new task force may also investigate the potential for AI to be used for pernicious purposes, and find ways to defend against them. He said any move to regulate AI would have to find a “sweet spot” where the government could develop guardrails without stifling innovation.
Mayorkas said that artificial intelligence was still in “a nascent stage” and that it was too soon to say whether the harms will outweigh the good.
“The power is extraordinary,” he said.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson, Writing by Diane Bartz; editing by Jonathan Oatis)