Throughout our 115-year history, the FBI has consistently adapted to advances in technology. FBI professionals implement technological advances in our work processes and procedures to improve how we accomplish our mission to protect the American people. The FBI also develops new and creative approaches to combat criminal use of new technologies and foreign adversary efforts to steal American innovations.
The pace of technology innovation is constantly increasing. Artificial intelligence or “AI” is a rapidly evolving advancement, and it seems we see or hear about “AI” everywhere. AI can be defined in different ways. Here, we are discussing artificial systems that perform and/or solve tasks in varying circumstances that require human-like abilities. The systems can learn from experience and improve performance when exposed to data. It also includes machine learning (ML).
AI has significant potential to transform society and our daily lives in positive ways. Unfortunately, it also provides criminals the opportunity to exploit this technology to harm others and threaten U.S. National Security. For instance, AI technologies are used to save us time by automating tasks. AI can also be used to generate fake or altered images or emails, fake or altered audio recordings, or malicious software code.
AI will likely have far-reaching implications on the threats we face, the types of crimes committed, and how we conduct our law enforcement activities. The FBI is approaching AI technology in three principal focus areas.
First, the FBI is working to identify and defend against threats from those who use AI for criminal activity, and against those who attack AI and ML systems which are being used for legitimate and lawful purposes. This includes the criminal use of AI generated digital content for extortion schemes or foreign adversary espionage efforts. Here we also look at the increase in use of AI and ML systems in critical infrastructure sectors as they present more opportunities for cyber-attacks such as network intrusions, ransomware, and data theft.
Secondly, the FBI is working to defend the innovators – private companies, universities, government research facilities – who are building the next generation of technology. The U.S. is the gold standard for AI talent in the world and is home to many leading AI companies. That makes our technology sectors an attractive target. Theft of AI technology advancements can cause significant harm to our economic and national security.
Third, the FBI is evaluating how AI can enable us to better serve the American people – for instance, improving efficiency in prioritizing large amounts of video/data to help solve crimes – responsibly, ethically, under human control, and within law and policy. The FBI currently uses AI only in specific and limited ways. One example of this use was after the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. Multiple investigators used AI to review and tag 21,000 hours of video over 10 days with little duplication of efforts.
As we have through history, the FBI will pursue our mission wherever it leads us. This includes mastering new domains and learning new technologies. We will continue to protect the American people with today’s technology while always looking at emerging technology to remain the premier law enforcement agency in the world.
Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI El Paso