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    US Legislators Introduce AI Export Control Bill to Prevent Risks to Critical Infrastructure

    A group of bipartisan United States lawmakers introduced a bill on May 5, 2024 imposing export control on AI systems to prevent exploitation of US AI models and other enabling tech by foreign adversaries, according to a press release by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The bill proposes amendments to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 of the US and if passed, would be called ‘Enhancing National Frameworks for Overseas Restriction of Critical Exports Act’ or ‘ENFORCE Act’.

    Key points from the bill:

    Definitions: The bill suggests including the definitions of AI, AI system, and covered AI system to the Export Control Reform Act 2018.

    It defines an AI system as, “The term ‘artificial intelligence system’ means any software or hardware implementation of artificial intelligence, including artificial intelligence model weights and any numerical parameters associated with the artificial intelligence implementation.”

    An interim definition under the bill states that a covered artificial intelligence system means an AI system that exhibits or can be modified to exhibit high-level capabilities to perform “tasks that pose a serious risk to the national security and foreign policy of the United States or any combination of those matters, even if it is provided to end users with technical safeguards that attempt to prevent users from taking advantage of the relevant capabilities”.

    These capabilities include:

    • enabling experts or non-experts to design, synthesis or acquire dangerous chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction;
    • enabling offensive cyber operations;
    • permitting evasion of human control through deception or obfuscation;
    • demonstrating technical similarity or equivalent performance to exhibit above-mentioned capabilities

    The bill states that in developing the final definition of the term ‘covered artificial intelligence system’, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Energy, shall consider technical and non-technical factors, including those factors that will most effectively promote the national security of the US.

    Powers to the President: The bill grants the President with powers to “control the activities of United States persons, wherever located, relating to specific covered artificial intelligence systems and emerging and foundational technologies that are identified as essential to the national security of the United States pursuant to section 1758(a)” of the Export Control Act.

    Authorising licenses for export of AI models: As per the bill, a US individual, wherever located, will have to apply for a license from the Department of Commerce for the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of covered AI systems and specific emerging and foundational technologies essential for the national security of the US. The Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security will play a key role in granting the export permissions.

    The Department of Commerce will also have to grant permissions for activities that may support the “design, development, production, use, operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, or refurbishing of, or for the performance of services” relating to the AI models.

    US govt’s actions for mitigating national security risks posed by AI

    • In a series of announcements, President Joe Biden’s October 2023 AI Executive Order directed developers of “most powerful” AI systems to share their safety test results and other critical information with the US government in accordance with the Defense Production Act, before companies make these models public.
    • The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a framework for nucleic acid synthesis screening to prevent misuse of AI for developing harmful chemical and biological materials. The Executive Order had highlighted that AI systems can pose threats to critical infrastructure, as well as exacerbate chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and cybersecurity risks.
    • Earlier in May, nine government agencies informed that they have initiated assessment of AI risks across sixteen critical infrastructure sectors, and have developed the AI safety and security guidelines for critical infrastructure owners and operators.
    • On April 26, the US DHS established a 22-member high-profile AI Safety and Security Board comprising CEOs of major AI companies like OpenAI, Anthropic, Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and AMD. The board will primarily focus on developing recommendations for various sectors to prevent and prepare for potential AI-related disruptions that could impact national security, economic stability, public health and safety.
    • According to a Reuters report, the DHS has expressed concerns about AI-assisted tools being misused for enabling cyberattacks against US critical infrastructure. The department particularly emphasised that China and others are developing “”AI technologies that could undermine U.S. cyber defenses, including generative AI programs that support malicious activity such as malware attacks.”

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    The post US Legislators Introduce AI Export Control Bill to Prevent Risks to Critical Infrastructure appeared first on MediaNama.

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