June 13, 2023

Luján asks for protections against AI issues

The proliferation of artificial intelligence across industries ranging from education to the arts to national intelligence has led to discussions about its use as a tool as well as its contributions both for and against national security.

U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico, sent a letter to National Telecommunications and Information Administrator Alan Davidson urging the agency to establish protections around AI development, governance and usage.

“AI is a critical technology that stands to transform all aspects of society. It is time for Congress and the Administration to create and implement responsible guardrails around AI development, governance, and use,” Luján wrote in the letter.

Luján said in the letter he wants to develop AI audits or certifications that “must include transparency, disclosure requirements, and tools to assess and incentivize language equity and protections for artists and consumers.”

Luján cited language equity as an area needing regulations since AI has been proven to have biases against race, gender and other characteristics.

Luján’s request for artist protections include existing copyright protections as well as “recommendations related to how model developers of AI and users can appropriately credit and compensate artists when their art is used to train AI models, or AI-generated outputs are created that ‘in the style of’ artists, leading to name, image, likeness issues or market dilution,” Luján’s letter stated.

Consumer protections include guardrails against AI-generated misinformation or other fraud.

“I urge you to include questions regarding what types of guardrails AI model developers include in their products to track or prevent users from contributing to fraudulent, false or misleading information related to elections, civil rights or public health, harassing or abusive content, or to clone individuals’ voices or likenesses,” the letter stated. 

Luján suggested privacy protections such as audits and AI tool assessments.

The letter was submitted as part of public comment on NTIA’s AI system accountability measures and policies. The public comment session closed June 12.
AI has been a conversation topic from congress to the National Intelligence Community and even its use by a former Beatle.

In April, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas delivered his State of Homeland Security Address which included a discussion of AI.

Mayorkas said that his team asked an AI chatbot to describe the homeland security threat environment’s evolution over the last 20 years. 

“We are, after all, confronting a dramatically changed environment compared to the one we faced in March 2003. One that could change even more dramatically, as AI grips our imaginations and accelerates into our lives in uncharted and basically unmanaged fashion,” Mayorkas said.

A few seconds after asking the AI model, it responded with:

“The homeland security threat environment has evolved from a primarily focused counterterrorism posture to a complex and diverse landscape of challenges that include cyberattacks, domestic extremism, and the COVID-19 pandemic, among others.”

Mayorkas commented that the answer provided was straightforward and noted that the evolving threat landscape’s “evolution is about to accelerate.”

In the space of about a year, AI chatbot usage has gone from the experimental to the mainstream.

In the 20 years since DHS was established technology has entered modern life from smart appliances like TVs and toasters to the nation’s electric grid and fuel pipelines.

“This has brought significant advances in capabilities and conveniences, but it also has exponentially increased the ways our interconnected, digital world can be exploited to do us harm,” Mayorkas said. “Today, malicious cyber actors are capable of disrupting gasoline supplies across an entire region of the country, preventing hospitals from delivering critical care, and causing disruption in some of the school systems around our country.”

To combat AI threats, Mayorkas directed an AI task force be created within DHS.

The task force’s four priorities include enhancing supply chain integrity by using AI to screen cargo, identify imports that were made with forced labor and to manage risks; use AI technologies to counter illegal fentanyl importation; apply AI to digital forensic tools to help find, identify and rescue victims of online child sexual exploitation and abuse as well as to catch perpetrators and the task force will also work with partners in the public and private sectors to “assess the impact of Al on our ability to secure critical infrastructure,” Mayorkas said in a memo establishing the task force.