The United States Department of Defense (DOD) released a statement on Jan. 25, outlining the beginning of its use of artificial intelligence (AI), predicting a battle between AI and counter-AI.
The statement followed a speech from Jude Sunderbruch, the DOD’s Cyber Crime Center executive director, at the Google Defense Forum. Essentially, this “battle” with “counter-AI” refers to identifying and blocking manipulation attempts of AI systems while creating AI systems that are resilient to such attacks.
“Adversaries are trying to get past our boundaries and our securities every day. They’re moving at ‘lightspeed.‘ They’re on fiber optic networks. They’re able to bounce from one VPS [virtual private server] to another in an instant, so utilizing AI to try to get ahead of that is going to be essential.”
Sunderbruch said this battle will raise major questions about what the truth is. He also said he wouldn’t call it an “arms race” but rather a “strategic competition.”
A similar sentiment was echoed in the developer space when, in December 2023, Meta’s AI boss, Yann LeCun, said an “AI war” was happening.
The DOD said it believes the U.S. is well positioned to make advances in the AI space, and it said a near-term goal is to use currently available AI tools and apply them to information that the government has layered with other available information.
Training the AI models with “a variety of useful information” and applying AI tools for threat and vulnerability analysis were also two goals the DOD mentioned it intends to pursue.
The intelligence director for the Defense Information Systems Agency, Army Colonel Richard Leach, who was also on the panel, highlighted AI’s role in helping process the “tsunami of data” provided to decision-makers.
“Let AI identify key pieces of information and maybe do some of the basic analysis. Let the analysts focus on the hard problem set so they’re not wasting time, resources and people.”
Leach said using AI will be important to understanding the changing, evolving digital landscape. “Every time somebody changes their network, updates their patches, or reconfigures the network,” he said, “they change the environment and the battlespace.”
The U.S. government has been actively exploring how it can utilize and regulate AI systems. On Oct. 30, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order establishing six new AI safety and security standards.
On Jan. 10, U.S. law enforcement officials warned about AI’s potential to help facilitate hacking, scamming and money laundering by lowering the barrier of entry of technical skills needed to pull off such crimes.