DHS launches safety and security board focused on AI and critical infrastructure 

Executives from OpenAI, NVIDIA and Alphabet are among those taking part.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee on the fiscal year 2025 budget in Washington, D.C. on April 16, 2024. (Photo by Allison Bailey / Middle East Images / AFP via Getty Images)

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced the creation of its new Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security Board. The formation of the group comes as the department ramps up its focus on AI and as concern grows about the technology’s impacts on critical services. 

The board includes representatives of major technology companies, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, as well as experts focused on artificial intelligence and civil rights. Also represented are leaders of companies focused on computer chips, like Lisa Su of Advanced Micro Devices and Jensen Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. Government leaders in the group include Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

On a call with reporters Friday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas gestured to a range of opportunities and concerns related to AI and critical infrastructure, which covers 16 sectors including defense, agriculture, energy, and internet technology. The department also expects to release guidelines related to critical infrastructure and artificial intelligence next week, he added.

The group will meet for the first time in May and will eventually form new recommendations for integrating artificial intelligence into critical infrastructure and protecting against any risks the technology might present. Mayorkas said he was personally involved in selecting members of the board, and addressed specific criticisms of OpenAI’s Altman by saying he had “no hesitation” about tapping the executive. 


“Ultimately AI is a tool, a potent tool, and it must be developed and applied with an understanding of how it will impact the individual, community, and society at large,” board member Fei-Fei Li, co-director of the Stanford Human-centered Artificial intelligence Institute, said in a statement. 

Maya Wiley, another board member and the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, added that “it is critical to have a civil rights perspective on any board with the mission to responsibly deploy artificial intelligence in our nation’s infrastructure. Critical infrastructure plays a key role ensuring everyone has equal access to information, goods, and services. It also poses great threats, including the spread of bias and hate speech online, stoking fear, distrust, and hate in our communities of color.”

Social media companies, which are not technically part of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors, are not represented on the board. “That’s a discrete line of endeavor that I did not feel is really within the center of what we are focused upon,” Mayorkas said in response to a FedScoop question. 

The department also referenced progress with its quest to beef up its internal staff focused on artificial intelligence. The agency said it’s received 4,000 applications for its AI Corps, a group of 50 experts in the technology it hopes to hire over the course of this year. Michael Boyce, a former OMB official, will lead that group. DHS has also launched an AI roadmap and is developing several generative AI pilots

Rebecca Heilweil

Written by Rebecca Heilweil

Rebecca Heilweil is an investigative reporter for FedScoop. She writes about the intersection of government, tech policy, and emerging technologies. Previously she was a reporter at Vox's tech site, Recode. She’s also written for Slate, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. You can reach her at Message her if you’d like to chat on Signal.

Latest Podcasts