Both Democratic and Republican senators expressed alarm on Tuesday about the potential for a hostile use of artificial intelligence, concentrating on the risk of AI being used to develop a biological attack.US senators express fear about AI, focused on biological assault.
In a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dario Amodei, chief executive of the AI startup Anthropic, said that AI could assist otherwise untrained evil individuals develop biological weapons.
“Certain steps in bioweapons production involve knowledge that can’t be found on Google or in textbooks and requires a high level of expertise,” said Amodei, whose company partnered with biosecurity specialists on a study of biological hazards deriving from AI. “We found that today’s AI tools can fill in some of these steps.”
Amodei added that AI was not currently capable of assisting to construct a biological weapon, calling it a “medium-term” risk.
“By enabling many more actors to carry out large-scale biological attacks, we believe this represents a grave threat to U.S. national security,” he said.
Subcommittee head Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, expressed alarm.
“The experts building these systems are warning of human extinction,” he stated in opening remarks. “The purpose for this hearing is to lay the framework for legislation. To go from general concepts, to specific recommendations. To use this hearing to draft legislation.”
Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, advocated for protections “that will ensure this new technology is actually good for the American people.”
The hearing takes place days after AI companies including OpenAI, Alphabet (GOOGL.O) and Meta Platforms (META.O) made voluntary promises to the White House last week to implement steps such as watermarking AI-generated content to help make the technology safer.
Since generative AI, which uses data to create new material like ChatGPT’s human-sounding text, made headlines early this year, politicians around the world began examining ways to reduce the hazards of the coming technology to national security and the economy.
As generative artificial intelligence, which uses data to create new material like ChatGPT’s humanitarian prose, grabbed headlines earlier this year, politicians around the world began examining ways to reduce the new technology’s hazards to national security and the economy.