The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to form a task force that will explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to advance “critical homeland security missions.”

The rapid evolution of the threat environment requires the Department to evolve along with it, said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in an April 21 press release.

The task force will seek to integrate AI to enhance the integrity of America’s supply chains, identify and interdict the flow of precursor chemicals to counter the flow of fentanyl, and target criminal networks, the statement said. According to U.S. authorities, China is the primary source of precursor chemicals.

The department will also use AI tools to rescue victims of online child sexual abuse and exploitation as well as apprehend the perpetrators of such crimes, according to the statement.

The department will work with academia, industry, and other government partners to assess how AI can be used to secure critical infrastructure, it said.

“The profound evolution in the homeland security threat environment, changing at a pace faster than ever before, has required our Department of Homeland Security to evolve along with it,” said Mayorkas.

The United States must address the multiple ways in which AI will “drastically alter the threat landscape,” he said on April 21.

“Our department will lead in the responsible use of AI to secure the homeland and in defending against the malicious use of this transformational technology. As we do this, we will ensure that our use of AI is rigorously tested to avoid bias and disparate impact.”

AI: A Double-Edged Sword

The Homeland Security Department’s integration of AI into government operations comes as experts warn about the tech being a threat to human freedoms in the hands of oppressive administrations.

“AI-enabled tech will be capable of surveilling, micro-targeting, and influencing democratic populations in ways that were previously impossible through traditional state monitoring and privately-developed social media algorithms,” Anders Corr, principal at Corr Analytics, said in a Jan. 4 commentary.

“Through micro-targeting, micro-production, and micro-delivery of subtle propaganda, AI could determine democratic decision-making outcomes like at no other time in history, thereby making those formerly democratic processes undemocratic.”

The Biden administration has already begun integrating AI with biased ideologies in government operations. In February, Biden approved an executive order directing federal agencies to use AI to achieve “equity” objectives.

“When designing, developing, acquiring, and using artificial intelligence and automated systems in the Federal Government, agencies shall do so, consistent with applicable law, in a manner that advances equity,” the order states.

Derived from Marxist ideology, equity is different from the concept of equality, where everyone in a society is treated on an equal footing, and given the same level of treatment regardless of differences in race, religion, and other factors.

Equity, on the other hand, focuses on the forced redistribution of resources. In a socialist equitable scenario, privileges are distributed based on perceived imbalances. Such decisions are typically undertaken by an unelected group of progressive advocates.

Evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, a founding editor of pro-free speech publication Reality’s Last Stand, has warned against such initiatives.

“Biden is not a moderate. This is a legal sprint to inject as much radical ideology as broadly and as deeply as possible in our government. This cannot be allowed. If Republicans take office, they must fully root out all of this ideological and social cancer,” he said in a Feb. 21 Twitter post.

The Race for AI Supremacy

In the field of AI, the United States could face significant threats from China. A March 2021 report (pdf) issued by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NCSAI) warns that “America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era. This is the tough reality we must face. And it is this reality that demands comprehensive, whole-of-nation action.”

The report points out that the competition in the field of artificial intelligence is also a “values competition.” China’s domestic use of AI is a “chilling precedent for anyone … who cherishes individual liberty,” it said.

China’s “employment of AI as a tool of repression and surveillance—at home and, increasingly, abroad—is a powerful counterpoint to how we believe AI should be used.”

“We must win the AI competition that is intensifying strategic competition with China. China’s plans, resources, and progress should concern all Americans. … We take seriously China’s ambition to surpass the United States as the world’s AI leader within a decade,” the report said.

Biden had earlier called this decade a “decisive” one for the world where generative AI and threats posed by the Chinese regime would influence the world.

While announcing AI integration, the Homeland Department also introduced new measures to counter Chinese threats, including defending critical infrastructure, disrupting the global fentanyl supply chain, and protecting against Beijing’s “malign economic influence.”

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