Challenges to U.S. National Security and Competitiveness Posed by AI

An overview of testimony by Jason Matheny presented before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on March 8, 2023.


Jason Matheny, President and CEO, RAND Corporation

Threats from AI pose special challenges for national security. The technologies are driven by commercial entities that are frequently outside our national security frameworks. The technologies are advancing quickly, typically outpacing policies and organizational reforms within government. Assessments of the technologies require expertise that's concentrated in the private sector, and that's rarely been used for national security, and the technologies lack conventional intelligence signatures that distinguish benign from malicious use and differentiate intentional from accidental misuse, or that permit attribution with confidence.

For several years, RAND has had a project on something we call Truth Decay, which is the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation attacks and other attacks against norms of evidence used in policy debates. One concern that we've had for several years is that the application of AI to disinformation campaigns could radically reduce the costs and increase the scale and speed of text and speech potentially that's used in disinformation in ways that are very difficult to distinguish from human generated forms of text and speech. I think one important area is in research on distinguishing generative model text and speech compared to ones that are authentic.

I think all agencies would benefit from being able to draw in greater expertise. Second is having a common framework for AI standards that all federal agencies can leverage. And then third, I think shared federal procurement rules that allow agencies to be developing tools that are built towards common standards with a common test framework.