Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. Flickr user EdWorkforceCommittee

How Much Does Artificial Intelligence Threaten National Security?

One lawmaker proposed a commission to examine the emerging tech through a national security lens.

As policymakers debate the government’s role in developing artificial intelligence, a House bill aims to shed light on the emerging technology’s role in strengthening national security.

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Act would create an independent panel to explore recent advancements in artificial intelligence and assess the economic and national security impacts of the budding technology.

Introduced Tuesday by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who heads the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, the legislation would provide direction for agencies looking to steer the growth of AI in the coming years. With some experts calling artificial intelligence “the biggest economic and technological revolution” of our lifetimes, maintaining an edge in the field could prove critical to America’s position on the world stage.

“Artificial intelligence is a constantly developing technology that will likely touch every aspect of our lives,” Stefanik said in a statement. “It is critical to our national security but also to the development of our broader economy that the United States becomes the global leader in further developing this cutting-edge technology.”

After reviewing the state of artificial intelligence, the commission would submit a series of short- and long-term recommendations on how lawmakers and agencies can responsibly foster the technology’s growth. Among the issues the group will address are how the country can stay competitive in the AI, build a tech-savvy workforce, maintain data privacy standards and develop technologies that comply with international law.

Stefanik said she expects to include the legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019.

With countries like China continuing to pour resources into artificial intelligence research, lawmakers and technologists worry the U.S. is falling behind in the race for global dominance in AI.

Despite experts pointing to research and development funding as a key avenue for government to spur innovation in artificial intelligence and other technologies, the White House proposed slashing non-Defense R&D budgets by more than 19 percent in its 2019 budget proposal.

“The future of U.S. innovation is at stake—this should be a cause of concern for everyone,” said Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill, at a House Oversight IT subcommittee hearing earlier this month. “This administration’s science, immigration and education policies are all working together to reduce the U.S. lead in AI technologies.”

Though the proposed legislation wouldn’t specifically allocate funds to artificial intelligence research, it does charge the national security commission with pinpointing ways to push agencies, academia and private companies to invest in R&D.