WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House has launched a multimillion-dollar cyber race to spur the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to find and fix U.S. Security gaps in government infrastructure.

“Cybersecurity is a race between offense and defense,” said Anne Neuberger, the U.S. government’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies.

“We know that malicious actors are already using artificial intelligence to speed up the identification of vulnerabilities or build malware,” she added in a statement to Reuters.

Many U.S. organizations, from health care groups to manufacturing companies and government agencies, have been targeted in recent years, with officials warning of future threats, especially from foreign adversaries.

Neuberger’s comments on AI echoed comments made last month by Canada’s cybersecurity chief, Sammy Curry. He said his agency has seen AI being used for everything from creating phishing emails and writing malicious computer code to spreading disinformation.

The two-year competition, which includes about $20 million (nearly 1.65 billion rupees) in awards, will be led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. government agency tasked with developing national security technologies, the White House said.

Alphabet’s Google, Anthropic, Microsoft and OpenAI — U.S. tech companies at the forefront of the AI ​​revolution — will adapt their systems to meet the challenge, the government said.

The race marks an official attempt to tackle a new threat that experts are still trying to fully grasp. Last year, US companies launched a series of generative artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, which allow users to create convincing videos, images, text and computer code. Chinese companies have also launched similar models to catch up.

Experts say such tools could make it easier to conduct large-scale hacking campaigns or create fake profiles on social media to spread disinformation and propaganda.

“Our goal of the DARPA AI Challenge is to foster a larger community of cyber defenders who use participating AI models to race faster — using generative AI to strengthen our cyber defenses,” Neuberger said.

The Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), a group of U.S. experts trying to improve the security of open source software, will be tasked with ensuring that “winning software code is put into use immediately,” the U.S. government said.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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