Chairman Langevin’s Opening Remarks at IETC Hearing on the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s Interim Findings

Sep 17, 2020 Issues: Armed Services

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, offered the following opening remarks at the subcommittee hearing he is chairing entitled: “Interim Review of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Effort and Recommendations.” Video of Langevin’s statement and a live feed of the proceedings: https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings?ID=70C87ECC-DF3E-4B34-A8C7-CA9EE8B70B3A

“I am pleased to welcome four commissioners from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, a commission created by this committee in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.

“Our intent for this commission was to ensure a bipartisan whole-of-government effort focused on solving national security issues, and we appreciate the leadership and hard work of our witnesses in supporting the commission’s efforts in that spirit. Today we welcome Dr. Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Commission; Robert Work, Vice Chairman; Mignon Clyburn, commissioner on the workforce and ethics lines of effort; and Dr. José Marie Griffiths, commissioner on the ethics line of effort, and chair of the workforce team.

“Our understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) started in the 1950s and ‘60s through research funded through the Department of Defense’s vital science and technology investments by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research and was aided by the convening power of universities. Now more than half a century later, this Commission is working through the difficult issues requiring national investments in research and software development and new approaches on how to apply AI appropriately for national security missions; attract and hold onto the best talent; protect and build upon our technical advantages; best partner with our allies on AI; stay ahead of the threat posed by this technology in the hands of adversaries; and implement ethical requirements for responsible American-built AI.

“Indeed, last year the Defense Innovation Board, which was also chaired until recently by Dr. Schmidt, helped the Department begin the necessary discussions on ethics in AI.

“I applaud the Commission for being forward leaning by not only releasing an initial and annual report as required in law, but also releasing quarterly recommendations. Ranking Member Stefanik and I, along with Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry, were pleased to support a package of provisions in this year’s House version of the FY21 NDAA based on the Commission’s first quarter’s recommendations. The House version carried 11 provisions, with the majority deriving from the Commission’s call to Strengthen the AI Workforce. We are pleased that both Commissioner Griffiths and Commissioner Clyburn are with us today to testify on the need for action on AI talent. 

“On that note, we must implement policies that promote a sound economic, political, and strategic environment on U.S. soil where global collaboration, discovery, and innovation can all thrive. The open dialogue and debate resident in academia and the research community can be anathema to the requirement for secrecy in the Department of Defense. But we must recognize – and embrace – how our free society provides the competitive advantage that lets us innovate faster than our great power competitors. Our free society enables a dynamic innovation ecosystem, and federally funded open basic research focused on discovery has allowed American universities to develop an innovation base that has effectively functioned as a talent acquisition program for the U.S. economy. And that talent is required today as much as ever to solve our most pressing national security challenges.

“Indeed, great power competition is also a race for talent. We are looking forward to hearing about your efforts, the observations and recommendations you’ve already developed, and your plan to continue until you submit the Commission’s final report in the spring.”