Reps. Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., introduced legislation on Wednesday to ensure better security of Department of Defense (DoD) computer systems through AI-enabled cybersecurity programs.

Currently, there is ambiguity as to whether the DoD can procure AI-based endpoint security tools to improve the cyber defenses of its systems. The AI for National Security Act would clarify and codify the DoD’s ability to use AI-based endpoint security tools to improve the cyber defenses of its systems.

“Every day, America’s adversaries use automated systems powered by [AI] in their attempts to break through America’s cyber-defenses and gain access to sensitive information and critical infrastructure, including networks and digital infrastructure at the [DoD],” said Rep. Obernolte in a press release.

“We must ensure the DoD has the ability to deploy AI technology to automatically detect and address threats to its networks and digital infrastructure, and that ability is currently unclear in statute,” he added.

The bill would ensure that the DoD can leverage innovative commercial technologies and effectively invest in its cyber capabilities to prevent, respond to, and recover from cyberattacks. It would also ensure that the United States can keep pace defensively with the offensive AI development and deployment of its adversaries.

AI is increasingly central to modern, strategic warfare, and according to Rep. Panetta, the United States needs to be prepared with a robust digital defense to meet these evolving national security challenges.

“As malicious cyberattacks grow in frequency, intensity, and sophistication, we need to ensure that our U.S. military has the tools needed to identify malign behavior and quickly protect our cyber infrastructure,” said Rep. Panetta.

If passed, this legislation would ensure that the DoD can leverage rapidly advancing AI technology to respond to these kinds of cyberattacks and keep pace with the capabilities of its geo-political rivals, Rep. Panetta added.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.