AI featured in the annual threat assessment of the US intelligence community

The US Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, released the annual ‘Worldwide threat assessment of the US Intelligence Community‘, listing artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies among the areas that could generate national security concerns to the USA. The document talks about the potential of emerging technologies to ‘disrupt labor markets and alter health, energy, and transportation systems’, and assesses that regulation is likely to lag behind technological progress. A concern is raised that emerging technologies and new applications of existing technologies ‘will also allow [US] adversaries to more readily develop weapon systems that can strike farther, faster, and harder and challenge the United States in all warfare domains’. The report specifically mentions AI, noting that ‘is likely to prompt new national security concerns; existing machine learning technology, for example, could enable high degrees of automation in labor-intensive activities such as satellite imagery analysis and cyber defense. Increasingly capable AI tools, which are often enabled by large amounts of data, are also likely to present socioeconomic challenges, including impacts on employment and privacy.’ In addition, AI is mentioned together with 5G, the Internet of Things, and big data as advanced ICTs that ‘will increasingly test US competitiveness’.