May 22, 2024 By Jennifer Gregory 3 min read

As part of its commitment to addressing the rapid growth and adoption of AI technology across all industries and sectors, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security Board in late April.

The Board’s first meeting is planned for early May when they will begin the task of focusing on how to develop and deploy AI technology within the United States’ critical infrastructure safely and securely. Based on the DHS Homeland Threat Assessment of 2024 determining that AI-assisted tools can enable larger scale, faster, efficient and more evasive cyberattacks, the Board’s role is to reduce the threat of these technologies on economic security and critical infrastructure. The DHS is specifically concerned about nation-states, such as the People’s Republic of China, threatening U.S. cybersecurity through AI technologies such as generative AI. “Artificial Intelligence is a transformative technology that can advance our national interests in unprecedented ways. At the same time, it presents real risks — risks that we can mitigate by adopting best practices and taking other studied concrete actions,” said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “I am grateful that such accomplished leaders are dedicating their time and expertise to the Board to help ensure our nation’s critical infrastructure — the vital services upon which Americans rely every day — effectively guards against the risks and realizes the enormous potential of this transformative technology.”

Advising public and private sectors on artificial intelligence

Secretary Mayorkas selected the 22 members as part of his role in establishing the Board. To represent the group’s responsibilities across both the public and private sectors, the members include a range of roles and industries. Members are from software and hardware companies, critical infrastructure operators, public officials, the civil rights community and academia.

Key tasks for the Board include:

  • Advising the Secretary, the critical infrastructure community, other private sector stakeholders and the broader public
  • Developing recommendations to help critical infrastructure stakeholders, such as transportation service providers, pipeline and power grid operators and internet service providers more responsibly leverage AI technologies
  • Devising recommendations to prevent and prepare for AI-related disruptions to critical services that impact national or economic security, public health or safety
  • Supporting DHS in staying ahead of evolving threats posed by hostile nation-state actors and reinforcing national security by helping to deter and prevent those threats

To begin fulfilling its mission, the Board has two key tasks to address right away. The Board will develop actionable recommendations focusing on the safe adoption of AI. As part of its advisory role, it will then provide those recommendations to the Secretary and the critical infrastructure community to allow stakeholders to begin implementation.

Additionally, the Board will develop a forum to allow collaboration and information sharing between key parties, including DHS, the critical infrastructure community and AI leaders.

Learn more about AI cybersecurity

New Board part of overall AI-focused cybersecurity initiatives

The newly created Board is part of an overall recent effort to ensure that AI technology allows the private and public sectors to innovate while reducing cybersecurity risk simultaneously.

In March, the DHS released an AI road map that explains all the projects and initiatives the organization plans for 2024. Top areas of focus include technologies that deliver meaningful benefits to Americans and also advance homeland security. At the same time, the department’s road map protects individual privacy, civil rights and civil liberties.

The three key projects in the road map, which will be under the purview of separate organizations, include the following:

  • Test AI to enhance investigative processes focused on detecting fentanyl and increasing the efficiency of investigations related to combating child sexual exploitation (Homeland Security Investigations)
  • Deploy AI to help communities plan for and develop hazard mitigation plans to build resilience and minimize risks (FEMA)
  • Use AI to improve immigration officer training (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

The White House also recently issued an update to the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, initially released in October 2023. The April 2024 update reported that federal agencies completed all of their actions included in the EO according to schedule, including the 90-day, 120-day, 150-day and 180-day actions. One of the key tasks was creating the first AI safety and security guidelines focused on critical infrastructure owners and operators. Through a collaboration among nine agencies, the federal government assessed AI risks across all 16 critical infrastructure sectors.

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