Rounds Delivers Opening Remarks at Cybersecurity Subcommittee Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, delivered opening remarks today at a subcommittee hearing on AI applications to operations in cyberspace. Video of the remarks is available here.

Rounds’ remarks, as prepared for delivery: 

I would like to thank our witnesses for appearing at our hearing today.  The topic of today’s hearing is one that is of particular interest to me.  Over the last few years, this subcommittee has witnessed first-hand at our many hearings and briefings how dynamic and rapidly-evolving the cyberspace domain is.  New technologies are emerging all the time — that’s a good thing, but it also poses new challenges.  Malicious cyber actors have demonstrated time and time again how quickly they can exploit these new technologies to attack our systems and infrastructures.  The Department of Defense must move just as quickly to understand these emerging technologies, both to provide our United States Cyber Command with cutting-edge capabilities for their cyberspace mission and also to defend against these technologies being used against our Nation.

I cannot think of a technology that will have a broader impact on cyberspace than the application of Artificial Intelligence (known as AI).  I’d like to share an excerpt from the final report of the National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI), which captures the landscape nicely: “AI-enhanced capabilities will be the tools of first resort in a new era of conflict as strategic competitors develop AI concepts and technologies for military and other malign uses and cheap and commercially available AI applications ranging from ‘deepfakes‘ to lethal drones become available to rogue states, terrorists, and criminals. The United States must prepare to defend against these threats by quickly and responsibly adopting AI for national security and defense purposes. Defending against AI-capable adversaries operating at machine speeds without employing AI is an invitation to disaster. Human operators will not be able to keep up with or defend against AI-enabled cyber or disinformation attacks, drone swarms, or missile attacks without the assistance of AI-enabled machines. National security professionals must have access to the world’s best technology to protect themselves, perform their missions, and defend us.”

Put simply, our adversaries are going to use AI against us — so we must use AI to defend against them.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.  To start with, I would like each witness to give a short basic introduction of AI that will help us understand these technologies better and help us describe these issues to other Senators to have the policy discussions that need to be done.  Please give us a short overview of the difference between a normal computer program, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.

I would also like to hear from the witnesses on their perspectives of the current state of adoption of AI technologies in industry to defend against AI-capable adversaries.  How are your companies leveraging AI today to defend your cyberspace infrastructure?  How do you think the Department of Defense needs to leverage AI for their cyberspace missions? I would appreciate your thoughts on the best way to leverage AI-enabled cyber defenses to protect against AI-enabled cyber attacks.

Thank you again to our witnesses for coming here today.