Get Informed, Stay Inspired

The White House aims to take the lead in the global effort to navigate the potential benefits and risks of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

The White House aims to take the lead in the global effort to navigate the potential benefits and risks of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

An advisor from the White House emphasized the crucial role of American leadership in creating rules and regulations to navigate the potential benefits and risks of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and digital platforms that facilitate global connections for billions of individuals. This was stated in an interview with VOA.

The Biden administration has introduced several measures regarding this issue, including a recent executive order that seeks to establish new standards for AI safety and security. This order requires collaboration from private developers and other nations, as “the attackers are located in one set of countries, the infrastructure is in another, and the victims are global,” explained Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology at the National Security Council.

Neuberger spoke with VOA White House Correspondent Anita Powell to discuss these intricate and fascinating technologies, and her belief that they have revealed both the negative and positive aspects of humanity.

The following has been shortened and made easier to understand.

VOA: We appreciate you taking the time to speak with VOA today. Can you explain the specific results of the recent meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the fields of cybersecurity, AI, and the digital economy?

Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for the White House, emphasized the significance of strategic technologies for the growth and national security of both countries. She also acknowledged that both nations are influential players on the global stage. The key takeaway from their meeting was the agreement between the two leaders to continue collaborating in areas of mutual interest, such as climate change and establishing guidelines for artificial intelligence, despite being in competition with each other.

Can you evaluate if the meeting made any advancements, particularly in regards to regulating AI?

In this screengrab from video, Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology at the National Security Council, is interviewed by VOA's Anita Powell, Nov. 29, 2023.

On November 29, 2023, VOA’s Anita Powell interviewed Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology at the National Security Council. A screengrab from the video of the interview is shown.

Neuberger: Productive conversations have taken place concerning a potential agreement for countries to convene and form a working group focused on implementing responsible boundaries and recommendations for AI.

I plan to remain focused on AI and the actions of the administration, such as the introduction of the AI Bill of Rights and their efforts to establish guidelines at the recent AI summit in London. What is the reason for the administration’s belief in the significance of U.S. leadership in this field?

Neuberger: For two reasons. First, the United States is a committed democracy and AI is a major technology that brings both promise and peril. It is up to us to determine how we both glean the promise and manage the peril. President Biden has made that clear in his game-changing executive order that, as a country, we must manage the perils in order to glean the promise.

What measures is the government taking to avoid the harmful utilization of generative AI in conflicts and competitions? This includes conflicts such as those in Israel and Ukraine, as well as competitions like the upcoming elections in Congo, Taiwan, and the United States.

Neuberger: Recently, we have observed advanced AI models that produce highly realistic videos and images. As it pertains to generative AI in relation to elections, I would like to highlight one of the voluntary commitments made by the president, which involves watermarking. This involves placing a visible or potentially invisible mark on AI-generated content to indicate to viewers that it is not real and has been created by AI. The use of an invisible mark can ensure that even if attempts are made to remove it, the platforms can still display the message and educate viewers. This technology is still developing and improving, but companies have agreed to start marking their generated content. Additionally, many social media platforms have committed to displaying messages to inform consumers that the content they are viewing is generated by artificial intelligence.

Can you explain what measures the government is taking to address cybersecurity threats from countries like North Korea and Russia?

Neuberger explains that North Korea is using cyberattacks to obtain funds due to their strict economic sanctions. They have shifted their focus from targeting banks to targeting cryptocurrency systems globally. In response, the White House has taken action by coordinating with the Treasury Department to combat this issue through designations.

More classifications will be introduced for the mixers of cryptocurrencies that hide money obtained illegally from the infrastructures of those cryptocurrencies. We have also been collaborating with the industry to urge them to enhance the security of their systems, as well as with law enforcement agencies. U.S. law enforcement has been working alongside international partners to dismantle the server infrastructure and apprehend the individuals behind these actions.

Can you share some information about the anti-ransomware project you are currently involved in?

Neuberger stated that criminal organizations, many of which are located in Russia but have operations worldwide, are encrypting computer systems and demanding ransom payments from the owners. In the last two years alone, the United States has paid $2.3 billion in ransom. This is a global issue that requires a collaborative effort. To address this, 48 countries, along with Interpol and the European Union, have come together to combat this issue. The initiative was built by the White House with a diverse leadership to effectively address the transnational nature of these attacks, where the attackers, infrastructure, and victims are all located in different parts of the world.

For instance, the main proponents of the initiative to enhance global capabilities are Nigeria and Germany – specifically, a country from Africa and a country from Europe, as their requirements vary. Our goal is to ensure that as we assist nations in developing the ability to combat this issue, we are attentive to the distinct needs of countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Indonesia. Likewise, there is a push to collaborate and exchange information regarding this matter.

You inquired about the primary outcomes of our most recent meeting. I will highlight three significant ones. Firstly, we successfully launched a website and a platform for countries to collaborate when facing a ransomware attack. This allows for the exchange of assistance and knowledge from those who have experienced a similar attack. Secondly, we issued a groundbreaking joint policy statement, with 48 countries pledging to not pay ransoms, recognizing that this is primarily a financial issue. And lastly, the United States has committed to sharing information on suspicious accounts used by criminals to transfer money globally, enabling other countries to prevent the flow of such funds. These are just three examples of the numerous commitments made during the meeting.

The topic of discussion is the Global South, known for its innovative digital economic technologies such as Kenya’s M-PESA, which was first introduced in 2007. Recently, the U.S. has adopted a similar platform called Venmo. How is the U.S. gaining knowledge from the developing world in creating these initiatives and addressing any potential risks associated with them?

Neuberger: M-PESA is a great demonstration of the potential of digital technology. Kenya utilized their existing telecommunications infrastructure to establish a banking system, allowing for widespread online transactions across the country. Similarly, Ukraine responded to Russia’s invasion by swiftly transitioning their government to an online platform, drawing from the success of Estonia’s digital practices. This has allowed Ukrainians, including those residing in Poland and Hungary, to maintain digital communication with their government.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) takes great pride in the success of the project in Ukraine and is using it as a blueprint for future projects in other countries. We are gaining valuable insights from the project’s creativity and innovation, and our goal is to incorporate American development expertise, resources, and technology companies to expedite the implementation of similar projects worldwide. We remain committed to the potential of digital technology, but as you pointed out, we must also address the danger of cybersecurity breaches.

Can you summarize the text below?

The text discusses the issue of anonymity in the digital world allowing people to say and do harmful things, despite the tools being intended for good. The speaker asks how one can maintain faith in humanity despite this.

Neuberger: The question at hand holds immense significance to me on a personal level. My great-grandparents perished in Nazi death camps, while some of my surviving family members endured the horrors of the camps or lived in hiding under false identities. The rise of digital technologies has also made our identities easily accessible. While browsing through Amazon and receiving book recommendations, I often reflect on how I would protect myself if a similar situation were to arise. Therefore, it is crucial that we prioritize the protection of vulnerable populations while utilizing these technologies.

The president is collaborating with AI corporations to declare that it is the responsibility of companies to safeguard vulnerable communities on the internet. This involves utilizing AI to identify instances of cyberbullying and hate speech that violate societal norms, as well as using AI to locate and eliminate images created by AI that target children, women, or other at-risk groups. Additionally, law enforcement agencies and partnerships globally should be utilized to discourage such behavior. While freedom of speech is an important aspect of free societies, protecting individuals from harm must be a collective effort.

Thank you for taking the time to address our audience.

Neuberger: Thank you.