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Biden administration taps tech CEOs for AI safety and security board

The board also includes executives from major corporations like Delta and government officials including the mayor of Seattle.
Sam Altman, chief executive officer of OpenAI, in Atlanta on Dec. 11, 2023.
Sam Altman, chief executive officer of OpenAI, in Atlanta on Dec. 11.Dustin Chambers / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The Department of Homeland Security established an advisory panel Friday to study how to protect critical infrastructure including power grids and airports from threats related to artificial intelligence.

The Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security Board, which has 22 initial members, includes high-profile figures in tech like OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, according to a statement from the DHS.

President Joe Biden ordered the creation of the board in October when he signed a wide-ranging executive order on AI, representing the federal government’s first foray into trying to regulate the technology since advanced AI apps including OpenAI’s ChatGPT went viral in popularity.

Joan Cros
Satya Nadella at a conference during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in 2019.NurPhoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

The board’s mission includes developing recommendations “to prevent and prepare for AI-related disruptions to critical services that impact national or economic security, public health, or safety.”

AI experts have identified a wide array of potential security threats that the new technology could make possible, from swarms of autonomous drones to cheap and lethal bioweapons to more effective hacking threats against critical computer systems.

The government’s defense may involve using AI to fight AI, the DHS said.

“The Board will develop 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,” the department said.

Image: Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, in San Francisco on Nov. 16.Eric Risberg / AP file

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that AI “can advance our national interests in unprecedented ways” but that it also “presents real risks — risks that we can mitigate by adopting best practices and taking other studied, concrete actions.”

In addition to tech CEOs, the board includes the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, defense contractor Northrop Grumman and oil producer Occidental Petroleum, as well as Maryland’s Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and the leaders of two civil rights organizations.