Department of Energy

Secretary Perry Addresses the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence

November 5, 2019

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Secretary Perry Addresses the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence

Remarks As Prepared for Secretary Rick Perry

Thank you for that introduction, Yll [ILL-ee] (Bajraktari, NSCAI Executive Director) [Bah-j-Rock-Tar-ee]. And let me also thank Representative Stefanik [Steff-ON-ick]…for her leadership and passion for AI’s nexus with national security.

It is truly an honor to address all of you at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Conference … on the future of AI and national security.

Today’s theme is strength through innovation … and that is exactly as it should be.

For innovation is the lifeblood of our country… and a vital source for our security.

For nearly three years … I’ve had the privilege of leading one of the world’s greatest incubators of innovation … the Department of Energy.

DOE’s unmatched research and development infrastructure … including our 17 National Laboratories … has left an indelible imprint on our world.

Their story began more than seven decades ago … with the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission … pursuing one of the greatest national security missions …of all time.

Thanks to that mission…our nation harnessed the power of the atom … …changed the course of history…and secured freedom’s future … for generations to come.

Now I want us to pause for a moment … and imagine how different the world would be today… if America had failed to lead… at that pivotal time.

Imagine if our adversaries of that time … had harnessed that power first.

The results would have been catastrophic.

Paraphrasing Winston Churchill… the whole world would have sunk “into the abyss of a new dark age…”

Today… America faces a similar moment… with innovation once again…ready to tip the scales of history.

We are engaged in an epic race for AI supremacy…with rival nations...  holding rival notions … about freedom.

If we fail to win this race… Churchill’s words of warning could well become a reality.

As I speak…China and Russia are striving to overtake us … and as every one of us knows… neither of these nations shares our values… or our freedoms.

Both of these nations are crushing liberty at home…with China building an AI surveillance state … capable of monitoring every move its citizens make.

Both are using their power to undermine the sovereignty and security of other nations.

Imagine what they could do…imagine what they would do… if they won the race.

President Trump recognizes this… and has affirmed…by word and deed…that America must win.

From unleashing federal dollars and promoting R & D investment…to removing barriers to AI innovation…from empowering American workers with AI-focused education and training at home…to supporting American AI overseas... the President’s AI Initiative calls on every federal agency… to help America prevail.

And at every point…it depends on institutions ….sharing their unique capabilities with each other…to achieve this goal.

At DOE…we have answered the call.

Our computing capabilities…and our deep expertise…are second to none.

DOE houses the world’s two most powerful supercomputers and four of the ten fastest…and we will soon deploy three … next-generation … exascale machines.

These machines … the first of their kind anywhere … will help us process astonishing amounts of data … with extraordinary precision … at lightning speed.

Combine these incredible machines and expertise with AI…and it becomes abundantly clear what DOE can offer.

That’s why I believe DOE is approaching the epicenter…of what I call… the Golden Age of Artificial Intelligence.

DOE is working on hundreds of projects … often with others…to develop…deliver…and deploy…AI.

Earlier this year…I directed the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board….to form a working group on AI issues.

And this September…I established the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO) [Ayy – EYE – Toe]…to transform DOE into a world-leading AI enterprise… by accelerating the research and development … the delivery and adoption … of artificial intelligence.

AITO will expand key partnerships with our government… with private sector and academic institutions… and with our allies abroad … so we can use AI to enhance our national security.

That includes nuclear security.

And so...our National Nuclear Security Administration is using AI and supercomputing… to simulate next-generation weapons design…and support science-based stockpile stewardship… without any nuclear testing.

It also includes intelligence gathering…as DOE is one of 17 federal agencies comprising America’s Intelligence Community.

And so…NNSA is using AI to monitor our adversaries’ nuclear testing and proliferation activities.

And since we can’t have national security without energy security… it includes securing America’s energy infrastructure.

And so…we are using AI to protect the grid… against cyber and physical attacks. 

Thanks to the President…we now have a focused mission … to win the AI race against freedom’s foes … while strengthening our capabilities against those foes … every step of the way.

And just as the Manhattan Project led to a nuclear triad of land…sea…and air… securing our nation for decades… so will today’s strategy forge a technology triad …of exascale…AI…and quantum… empowering us for generations to come.

And it is only through this remarkable new triad…that we are on the cusp of something momentous …something that would have been impossible without it.

We are about to diagnose… treat…and prevent… traumatic brain injury… in all of its aspects…on an unprecedented scale… while ending the tragedy of suicide….for America’s veterans…and for others… from every walk of life.

Clearly…if we win the AI race…we will open the door to an astonishingly better world.

If we prevail…I see an end to energy poverty…as we deliver more energy…to more people…across the globe…than ever before.

I see us revolutionizing transportation…and building smarter cities.

I see people living…not dying…as we forecast earthquakes and other natural disasters…more precisely than ever.

I see children no longer malnourished…as we boost crop yields to incredible levels.

I see us ending the opioid epidemic…I see us finding cures for intractable diseases.

Our adversaries seek to subjugate….but we will liberate.

They seek to exploit…but we will empower.

They seek to dominate…but we will serve.

I believe that we…a free and innovative people…who split the atom…walked the moon…and brought tyrants down… will rise to the challenge.

And as we do…I believe that if we stay true to freedom… He who gave us our freedom… will hardly be neutral.

For the sake of this generation…and generations to come…let us run the race…fight the good fight…and win.

God bless our efforts…God bless your work on this Commission… and may God bless our great nation and its freedoms.