US Senators Express Bipartisan Concerns About AI and Biological Attacks

Both Democratic and Republican senators have raised concerns about the potential sinister use of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly in the context of creating biological attacks. In a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dario Amodei, CEO of AI company Anthropic, highlighted the possibility of AI assisting malevolent actors in developing biological weapons.

Amodei emphasized that certain steps in bioweapons production require specialized knowledge beyond what can be found in publicly available sources. However, he noted that current AI tools are capable of filling in some of these knowledge gaps. He cautioned that AI is not yet capable of independently building biological weapons and described it as a “medium-term” risk.

The grave threat posed to US national security by the potential for large-scale biological attacks was underscored by Amodei. Subcommittee chair Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, expressed his alarm and emphasized the experts’ warnings of potential human extinction. Blumenthal stated that the purpose of the hearing was to lay the groundwork for legislation and formulate specific recommendations to address this issue effectively.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, stressed the need for safeguards to ensure that new technologies, including AI, are beneficial to the American people. This sentiment reflects a growing bipartisan concern for the responsible implementation of AI.

The hearing coincided with voluntary commitments made by prominent AI companies, such as OpenAI, Alphabet, and Meta Platforms, to the White House. These commitments aim to implement measures like watermarking AI-generated content in order to enhance safety precautions within the technology.

Lawmakers worldwide have been considering regulatory measures to mitigate potential risks associated with AI, particularly in relation to national security and the economy. The emergence of generative AI technology, capable of creating human-like content, has prompted these discussions.

Overall, bipartisan concern among US senators highlights the urgency to address the potential malicious use of AI, particularly in relation to biological attacks. Legislative action and responsible AI development are seen as crucial steps to safeguarding national security and public welfare.