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Biden Announces Incentive Program for AI Solutions to Cybersecurity Threats

President Biden has a new plan to combat digital danger: a competition that will reward millions of dollars in taxpayer cash to people who use artificial intelligence to stop cyber chaos.

The nearly $20 million available in prize money pales in comparison to the many millions more dollars available from private investors. Mr. Biden’s team is touting the cash prizes alongside voluntary commitments from tech companies to make safe AI products as evidence that the federal government is doing something to protect people from emerging tech risks.

The White House said Wednesday that it is teaming with the Defense Department’s research and development arm to offer cash prizes for AI solutions to problems in software running the internet and critical infrastructure, such as energy and transportation systems.

“The ‘AI Cyber Challenge’ (AIxCC) will challenge competitors across the United States to identify and fix software vulnerabilities using AI,” the White House announcement said. “Led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), this competition will include collaboration with several top AI companies — Anthropic, Google, Microsoft and OpenAI — who are lending their expertise and making their cutting-edge technology available for this challenge.”

A senior DARPA official told reporters the agency’s funds will be used to reward $18.5 million in prize money. The White House said $7 million more will be made available to small business competitors during the two-year challenge to ensure a fair contest.

Much more money is available to entrepreneurs in the private sector. Anthropic, one of the AI companies collaborating with the White House, was founded in 2021 with a team of seven people and said in May that it raised $450 million in its latest funding round to support the development of helpful AI systems.

SEE ALSO: Biden touting Big Tech commitment to make AI tools safe amid fears of tech-fueled apocalypse

The Biden administration, however, is confident that its prizes will fundamentally change the way cybersecurity works.

“The top competitors will make a meaningful difference in cybersecurity for America and the world,” the White House said.

The taxpayer-financed cash prizes are the latest inducement Mr. Biden’s team rolled out to incentivize safe AI development.

In July, Mr. Biden touted how seven top AI companies pledged to make new tools safe. The companies visiting the White House to spotlight their promises included: Anthropic, Amazon, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI.

The new cash prizes and voluntary commitments are the precursors to new AI rules, according to Mr. Biden’s team.

Mr. Biden is also on an executive order for AI and the White House is collaborating with lawmakers on new legislation.

SEE ALSO: Tech industry leader warns Congress AI will lead to spread of bioweapons

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has said it is taking a whole-of-society approach to formulating a new National AI Strategy.

Congress is looking at ways to curb AI dangers including examining political destabilization and bioweapon production.

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