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  1. Science and Technology
  2. Research & Development
  3. Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems

Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems


Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most prevalent topic across multiple strategic drivers for research and development within the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). It has the potential to significantly impact the Department across many missions and to spawn new inventions and additional advances in numerous other domains.

As AI and autonomous systems (AS) become mainstream, it is critical that S&T understands the landscape, the evolution of the various aspects of the technology, and the supporting science as they affect the needs of the Department. 

Key areas of S&T’s AI research include computer vision for applications such as surveillance and screening systems and biometrics, and natural language processing for applications such as law enforcement and immigration services. Key use cases for AS include transportation (automotive, aerospace, maritime, and rail), utilities (water and wastewater, oil and gas, electric power, and telecommunications), and facility operations (security, energy management, environmental control, and safety).

S&T’s focus areas in AI and AS include:

  1. Trustworthy AI/AS
    We aim to assess the performance of AI/AS for potential operational use to maintain the integrity of DHS missions and to ensure the appropriate systems are employed.
  2. Adversarial AI
    Across all the layers in the communications and tech stacks (data, software, hardware, networks, and communications), we must guard against sophisticated adversaries employing AI attacks.
  3. Advanced Applications of AI/AS for Unique DHS Missions
    We seek to advance AI/AS capabilities in various subfields (such as computer visioning, natural language processing, predictive modeling, etc.) to drive application of AI/AS across specific DHS missions and needs (e.g., biometric capabilities, media, and analytics for mis/dis/mal information, digital forensics, etc.).

Our investments today in AI research and development support our ability to meet immediate mission needs, while preparing the Department for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.

On April 20, 2023, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas established the DHS Artificial Intelligence Task Force to advance specific mission applications of AI across DHS. Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dimitri Kusnezov was asked to co-lead the task force with DHS Chief AI Officer Eric Hysen. The task force was charged with advancing the application of AI to critical homeland security missions in four priority initiatives: 

  • Enhance the integrity of supply chains and the broader trade environment;
  • Leverage AI to counter the flow of fentanyl into the United States through better detection methods and disruption of criminal networks;
  • Apply Al to digital forensic tools to help identify, locate, and rescue victims of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, and to identify and apprehend the perpetrators; and
  • Work with our partners in government, industry, and academia, to assess the impact of Al on our ability to secure critical infrastructure.

Visit the DHS Artificial Intelligence homepage to learn more about how DHS and its components are using artificial intelligence responsibly to advance its homeland security mission.

Learn more about us and discover how your organization can partner with S&T to make the homeland more secure.

Last Updated: 04/10/2024
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