Americans have not yet grappled with just how profoundly the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will impact our economy, national security, and welfare. Much remains to be learned about the power and limits of AI technologies. Nevertheless, big decisions need to be made now to accelerate AI innovation to benefit the United States and to defend against the malign uses of AI.
When considering these decisions, our leaders confront the classic dilemma of statecraft identified by Henry Kissinger: “When your scope for action is greatest, the knowledge on which you can base this action is always at a minimum. When your knowledge is greatest, the scope for action has often disappeared.” The scope for action remains, but America’s room for maneuver is shrinking. As a bipartisan commission of 15 technologists, national security professionals, business executives, and academic leaders, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) is delivering an uncomfortable message: 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. Our final report presents a strategy to defend against AI threats, responsibly employ AI for national security, and win the broader technology competition for the sake of our prosperity, security, and welfare. The U.S. government cannot do this alone. It needs committed partners in industry, academia, and civil society. And America needs to enlist its oldest allies and new partners to build a safer and freer world for the AI era. AI is an inspiring technology. It will be the most powerful tool in generations for benefiting humanity. Scientists have already made astonishing progress in fields ranging from biology and medicine to astrophysics by leveraging AI.
These advances are not science fair experiments; they are improving life and unlocking mysteries of the natural world. They are the kind of discoveries for which the label “game changing” is not a cliché.