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Senate Conducts Hearing on the DOE’s Role in Advancing AI

on Thursday, 28 September 2023 in Technology & Intellectual Property Update: Arianna C. Goldstein, Editor

Earlier this month the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a full committee hearing to discuss advancements in AI and the Department of Energy’s role in fostering these developments.  With the recent pivotal advances in AI, it has become clear that use of AI technologies will continue to grow in all aspects of our lives.  This includes uses in critical energy infrastructure ranging from electrical grids to nuclear power.  The Senate Committee heard from DOE’s Deputy Secretary, David M. Turk, among others, on the role the DOE may take in AI advancements and use in these critical areas.

The Deputy Secretary made the case that the United States’ view of AI is shifting to recognize the fact that other governments around the world are investing numerous resources in AI technologies to make these technologies national assets.  This fact underscores the need for the United States to stay at the forefront of the development, with particular focus on the development of secure AI technologies for deployment in critical energy infrastructure.  The DOE, Secretary Turk reasoned, is particularly well situated to take the lead in AI development and deployment as a national asset given that the Department was born out of the Atomic Energy Commission that had the mission “to guarantee American superiority in the new era of nuclear science for both national security and for open society, to pursue both open and classified R&D, to create a workforce with unparalleled expertise to understand and control the risks of nuclear technology in order to harness its extraordinary potential for our national security, including economic security.”  Secretary Turk sees the mission for advancing AI as similarly dualistic, where advancement as a national security asset can happen in parallel and in many aspects cooperation with private-industry, and believes that the DOE is capable of advancing both these objectives.

Remarks from the full committee hearing can be found, here.

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