Director of the NSA, Paul Nakasone, acknowledges the US’s AI development advantage but underscores the need to remain vigilant, particularly in light of China’s looming threat.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) has unveiled an AI security center responsible for supervising the implementation of AI capabilities in US defense and intelligence agencies.
General Paul Nakasone, who serves as both the NSA Director and US Cyber Command leader, stated on Thursday that US authorities recognize the growing significance of AI in national security. The establishment of this new center is a strategic move aimed at influencing the future of AI technology in security, defense, and intelligence domains.
“We currently hold a leading position in AI within the United States. However, we must not assume that this AI advantage is assured,” Nakasone stated during his address at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He discussed both the center’s launch and the escalating challenge posed by China.
Nakasone mentioned that the AI center will be integrated into the existing NSA Cybersecurity Collaboration Center. It will serve as the central hub for advancing the secure integration of new AI capabilities across the national security sector and the defense industry.
According to a statement from the US Department of Defense, Nakasone emphasized, “AI will have growing significance in matters related to national security, including diplomacy, technology, and the economy, for both our nation and our allies and partners.”
The head of the NSA stressed the critical need for the United States to retain its leadership in AI development and to thwart any attempts by hostile foreign entities to access US AI innovations.
“We need to establish a comprehensive awareness of AI weaknesses, foreign intelligence risks associated with these AI systems, and strategies to counter these threats in order to ensure AI security,” he remarked.
When questioned about the US employing AI to automate threat analysis, Nakasone clarified that US intelligence and defense agencies currently leverage AI, although ultimate decisions are still under human control.
“AI aids our processes, but it’s crucial to recognize that our choices are ultimately human-driven,” he emphasized. “We do benefit from artificial intelligence, but in the final analysis, decisions will always rest with humans who are actively involved.”
In response to inquiries from reporters, Nakasone stated that as of the present moment, the US security agency has not detected any efforts by either Russia or China to influence the 2024 US presidential elections.
He also pointed out that numerous elections will occur in different parts of the world before the US presidential election, and the United States will collaborate with its partners and allies to help deter any such attempts at manipulation.
The creation of an AI security center is a response to an NSA investigation, which pinpointed the protection of AI models against theft and malicious tampering as a critical national security issue for the United States. This concern is particularly pronounced as generative AI technologies continue to advance, offering significant transformative capabilities to both beneficial and adversarial parties.
Additionally, cybersecurity experts have noted an increase in cyber activities by China in recent months, specifically targeting US and allied institutions. These operations may involve the placement of malware intended to disrupt military communications.
Last Thursday, the United States and Japan jointly issued a warning, indicating that Chinese hackers were actively targeting governmental, industrial, telecommunications, and other entities that provide support to their respective military forces.