Washington, D.C. — Today, Senators Ted Budd (R-NC) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced a pair of bills to direct federal officials to prepare for and respond to potential catastrophic threats related to the possible misuse of artificial intelligence (AI).
The Strategy for Public Health Preparedness and Response to Artificial Intelligence Threats Act would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a strategy for public health preparedness and response to address the risks of misuse of artificial intelligence threats, particularly with regard to biological or chemical weapons.
The Artificial Intelligence and Biosecurity Risk Assessment Act would direct the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to conduct comprehensive risk assessments of advances in AI that could pose emergent risks, and report to Congress.
Senator Budd said in a statement:
“As AI grows in power and influence, we may face the real prospect of AI-generated threats like biological or chemical weapons. The federal government must not be caught flat-footed on these threats and should begin to prepare now. I’m glad to join with Senator Markey to lead the Senate to face potential AI threats head on.”
Senator Markey said in a statement:
“The federal government has fallen behind before in addressing the grave risks posed by emerging technologies. We can’t make the same mistake with the technologies of our future. Either we prevent the risks now, or Americans will be left dealing with the consequences for decades to come. It is vital for us not only to understand the impacts of artificial intelligence on our health, but to act with the urgency that this moment requires. Protection of the nation’s health security isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. It is an issue of national security. Senator Budd and I are working together to ensure the federal government responds to these risks before it’s too late.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly developing technology with the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our lives. However, AI poses potential threats to public health.
For example, a 2019 study published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence explored how AI could be used to design new chemical weapons. The paper’s authors found that AI could be used to quickly and efficiently design new compounds that were highly toxic.
Another study, conducted by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found Large Language Models (LLMs) in chatbot platforms can help people without laboratory training to develop viruses highlighted as pandemic threats.
These research papers suggest that there is a potential for AI to be used to develop chemical and biological weapons.