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Artificial Intelligence and Critical Infrastructure (Rand Analysis)

Artificial Intelligence and Critical Infrastructure (Rand Analysis)

April 2024


This report from the Rand Corporation is one in a series of analyses on the effects of emerging technologies on U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) missions and capabilities...Authors were charged with developing a technology and risk assessment methodology for evaluating emerging technologies and understanding their implications within a homeland security context.

The risks and scenarios considered in this analysis pertain to AI use affecting critical infrastructure. The use cases could be either for monitoring and controlling critical infrastructure or for adversaries employing AI for use in illicit activities and nefarious acts directed at critical infrastructure. 

The following questions were addressed:

  1. What is the technology availability for AI applications in critical infrastructure in the next ten years?
  2. How will science and technology maturity; use case, demand, and market forces; resources; policy, legal, ethical, and regulatory impediments; and technology accessibility of critical infrastructure applications change during this ten-year period?
  3. What risks and scenarios (consisting of threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences) is AI likely to present for critical infrastructure applications in the next ten years?

Key findings from the report include the following (among others not shown in this summary):

  • AI is transformative technology and will likely be incorporated broadly across society—including in critical infrastructure.
  • AI will likely be affected by many of the same factors as other information age technologies, such as cybersecurity, protecting intellectual property, ensuring key data protections, and protecting proprietary methods and processes.
  • The AI field contains numerous technologies that will be incorporated into AI systems as they become available. As a result, AI science and technology maturity will be based on key dependencies in several essential technology areas, including high-performance computing, advanced semiconductor development and manufacturing, robotics, machine learning, natural language processing, and the ability to accumulate and protect key data.
  • To place AI in its current state of maturity, it is useful to delineate three AI categories: artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), artificial general intelligence, and artificial super intelligence. By the end of the ten-year period of this analysis, the technology will very likely still only have achieved ANI.

For additional details and to download the full text, visit the Rand page for the free publication.