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  • Mal McCallion

White House's AI Contest: A Cybersecurity Game-Changer

Updated: Dec 11, 2023


The White House has just upped the ante in the global cybersecurity game.


In a move that has tech aficionados buzzing, it recently announced a multimillion-dollar artificial intelligence (AI) contest. The goal? To harness the power of AI to identify and rectify security flaws in US government infrastructure.


"Cybersecurity is a race between offense and defense," said Anne Neuberger, the US government's deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology. The race has taken on a new urgency as hackers increasingly turn to AI to identify vulnerabilities and craft malicious software.


The contest is a response to the growing number of cyberattacks on US organisations. From healthcare groups to manufacturing firms and government institutions, no sector has been immune. The increasing sophistication of these attacks, often linked to foreign adversaries, has prompted the government to take this proactive step.


The two-year contest, with a whopping $20 million in rewards, will be spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - the US government body responsible for creating technologies for national security.


But the government isn't going to do it alone. Tech titans Alphabet, Microsoft, Anthropic, and OpenAI will make their systems available for the challenge. These firms are at the forefront of the AI revolution, and their participation adds significant weight to the contest.


The contest is a clear acknowledgement of the emerging threat that AI poses in the realm of cybersecurity. Over the past year, US firms have launched a range of generative AI tools that can create convincing videos, images, texts, and computer code. While these tools have legitimate uses, they could also be harnessed for malicious purposes, such as conducting mass hacking campaigns or creating fake social media profiles to spread disinformation.


"Our goal with the DARPA AI challenge is to catalyse a larger community of cyber defenders who use the participating AI models to race faster – using generative AI to bolster our cyber defences," Neuberger said.


The Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) will ensure that the winning software code is put to use immediately, marking a significant step forward in the fight against cyber threats.


In the race between offense and defense in cybersecurity, the White House's AI contest could well be a game-changer. As AI continues to evolve, it's clear that the battle lines in cybersecurity are being redrawn.



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