The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) published its 2021 report today in which it concludes that “the United States must act now to field AI systems and invest substantially more resources in AI innovation to protect its security, promote its prosperity, and safeguard the future of democracy.”

The price tag on winning the AI race? Perhaps $200 billion or more over the next ten years, the report finds.

While AI has been a hot button issue in Washington, D.C. – and states across the country – NSCAI argues that currently the Federal government is not organizing or investing to win the technology competition against a committed competitor. Additionally, the report finds that the U.S. isn’t prepared to defend against AI-enabled threats and rapidly adopt AI applications for national security purposes.

Rather than make small, incremental changes to U.S. AI policy, the report says that improving the United States’ AI standing will require a large investment and “significant change in mindset.” The mindset change must come from White House leadership, cabinet-member action, and bipartisan congressional support.

The report, NSCAI says, “presents an integrated national strategy to reorganize the government, reorient the nation, and rally our closest allies and partners to defend and compete in the coming era of AI-accelerated competition and conflict.” It offers up a two-pronged approach, “Defending America in the AI Era,” and “Winning the Technology Competition.”

The first prong outlines the stakes, explains what the United States must do to defend against the spectrum of AI-related threats, and offers recommendations on how the U.S. government can responsibly use AI technologies to protect the American people and the country’s interests. In the second prong, the report addresses critical elements of the AI competition and provides recommendations on how the government can promote AI innovation to improve national competitiveness and protect critical U.S. advantages.

NSCAI says that the recommendations from both prongs are designed to be “interlocking and mutually reinforcing actions that must be taken together.”

The report makes more than 60 recommendations, which would cost more than $200 billion to implement between FY 2022 and FY 2032.

The recommendations include:

  • Create a Foreign Malign Influence Response Joint Interagency Task Force;
  • Increase Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funding for media authentication, disinformation detection, attribution, and disruption;
  • Establish a dedicated AI Fund and increase investments in AI R&D;
  • Work with the intelligence community to establish a 10-year Program of Record to provide long-term, predictable funding for technologies identified by the National Intelligence Strategy;
  • Appoint responsible AI leads and supporting staff in each agency critical to national security;
  • By congressional action, establish third-party testing center(s) to allow independent, third-party testing of national security-related AI systems that could impact;
  • Also in Congress, pass a new National Defense Education Act;
  • Establish a National Technology Foundation;
  • Increase Federal grants for microelectronics manufacturing; and
  • Provide funding for the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies.

“We now know that the uses of AI in all aspects of life will grow and the pace of innovation will continue to accelerate,” the report concludes. “The United States should invest what it takes to maintain its innovation leadership, to responsibly use AI to defend free people and free societies, and to advance the frontiers of science for the benefit of all humanity. AI is going to reorganize the world. America must lead the charge.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.