IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

DHS Announces Artificial Intelligence Task Force

The group will focus on combating the spread of fentanyl, helping victims of online child sexual exploitation, defending critical infrastructure and improving supply chains.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 1, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is launching a new task force on artificial intelligence, DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas announced today.

The AI Task Force is the first of its kind for the department and will explore how AI could help with four goals:

  • Improving supply chain “integrity”
    • That includes using AI to help identify imports made with forced labor, “screen cargo” and “manage risk.”
  • Curbing the spread of fentanyl
    • That includes helping in efforts to detect shipments of the drug, identify and intercept the international flow of chemicals used to make it, and determine “key nodes in the criminal networks” that could then be disrupted.
  • Protecting abused children
    • Using AI-powered forensics tools could “help identify, locate and rescue victims of online child sexual exploitation and abuse” and find and pursue perpetrators.
  • Defending critical infrastructure
    • The task force will explore how AI could impact critical infrastructure security and will examine this topic with the support of academia, government and industry partners.

Next up, the task force has 60 days to present a “concept of operations and milestones” explaining how it would work toward those four goals.

Another group — the Homeland Security Advisory Council — meanwhile, has been working to examine “the intersection of AI and homeland security” and develop recommendations. Once these are available, they’ll go to the task force for review. The task force may also help with putting the recommendations into action.

Mayorkas announced the task force at the Council on Foreign Relations. There he also announced a 90-day sprint aimed at responding to security threats from the Chinese government and discussed the evolving homeland security landscape.

“The profound evolution in the homeland security threat environment, changing at a pace faster than ever before, has required our Department of Homeland Security to evolve along with it,” Mayorkas said. “We must never allow ourselves to be susceptible to ‘failures of imagination,’ which, as the 9/11 Commission concluded nearly 20 years ago, held us back from connecting the dots and preparing for the destruction that was being planned on that tragic day. We must instead look to the future and imagine the otherwise unimaginable, to ensure that whatever threats we face, our department – our country – will be positioned to meet the moment.”