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A National Security Insider Does the Math on the Dangers of AI

Wired [unpaywalled]: “Jason Matheny is a delight to speak with, provided you’re up for a lengthy conversation about potential technological and biomedical catastrophe. Now CEO and president of Rand Corporation, Matheny has built a career out of thinking about such gloomy scenarios. An economist by training with a focus on public health, he dived into the worlds of pharmaceutical development and cultivated meat before turning his attention to national security. As director of Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the US intelligence community’s research agency, he pushed for more attention to the dangers of biological weapons and badly designed artificial intelligence. In 2021, Matheny was tapped to be President Biden’s senior adviser on technology and national security issues. And then, in July of last year, he became CEO and president of Rand, the oldest nonprofit think tank in the US, which has shaped government policy on nuclear strategy, the Vietnam War, and the development of the internet. Matheny talks about threats like AI-enabled bioterrorism in convincing but measured tones, Mr. Doomsday in a casual suit. He’s steering Rand to investigate the daunting risks to US democracy, map out new strategies around climate and energy, and explore paths to “competition without catastrophe” in China. But his long-time concerns about biological weapons and AI remain top of mind. Onstage with WIRED at the recent Verify cybersecurity conference in Sausalito, California, hosted by the Aspen Institute and Hewlett Foundation, he warned that AI is making it easier to learn how to build biological weapons and other potentially devastating tools…”

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