Details from a September 29 memo addressed to US Space Force Guardians have revealed the space service branch’s concerns over generative artificial intelligence (AI), resulting in the issuance of a temporary ban on the use of web-based AI tools by its personnel.
Citing data concerns associated with the use of AI tools like OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT and risks posed by the aggregation of data, the Space Force has warned its personnel they are prohibited from using AI on any government computers, pending approval from the branch’s Chief Technology and Innovation Office.
U.S. Space Force Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Lisa Costa, author of the September memo, spoke favorably of the long-term use of such AI tools, stating that their eventual use “will undoubtedly revolutionize our workforce and enhance Guardian’s ability to operate at speed.” However, the data risks currently associated with their use were deemed to be too great for the time being.
The choice to temporarily halt the use of web-based AI was cited as a “strategic pause” in a statement by Tanya Downsworth, a Public Affairs Officer with the United States Air Force. The enactment of the temporary ban was first reported by Bloomberg.
In August, the Pentagon announced the creation of its new generative artificial intelligence (AI) task force, which officials said would serve the purpose of examining and incorporating large language models (LLMs) and other AI capabilities throughout the various offices within the Department of Defense (DoD).
Officially named Task Force Lima, the effort “will assess, synchronize and employ generative artificial intelligence across the department,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters in August.
Task Force Lima is currently overseeing efforts to mitigate potential risks associated with the use of AI tools similar to those cited in the recent Space Force memo.
Earlier this year, the unauthorized release of sensitive U.S. government documents by Jack Teixeira, an airman in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, prompted an investigation by the Pentagon, which ultimately characterized the leaks as having been “a criminal act.”
Following the leaks, The Debrief reported on an unprecedented national security briefing that took place at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, with attendance from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines, CIA director William Burns, and Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and others.
In her statement, Downsworth emphasized that the Space Force’s choice to pause the use of AI tools was “a temporary measure,” which aimed to ensure the protection of data of the Space Force and its personnel.
Additional details on the move will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead, Downsworth said.