A Letter from the Chair and CEO

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Large Language Models (LLMs), and generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) more broadly, are the latest and potentially most significant technological advances in this time of rapid technological change. They represent a step change in AI’s capabilities and a fundamentally different and promising path in AI’s development. This special edition report provides an honest, sober, and comprehensive appraisal of GenAI’s promise as well as the conceivable peril of this fast-evolving technology. We discuss GenAI’s potential as an entirely new technology, its importance for national security, and also how it opens up a new era on the broader AI development timeline. This report offers a vision for how governments and the private sector must come together to steer the responsible development of GenAI, adroitly manage the national security implications, and put in place the organizations and supporting institutions to ensure we maintain a commanding lead not only in GenAI but the larger AI sector as a whole. This is a golden moment for U.S. government leadership.

For every significant technological leap in our nation’s modern history, there has been a call to action, a signal to the President that the nation needs a strategy to guide a concerted effort for adopting technology in a way that considers both the enormous benefits as well the critical national security implications. This principle guided the Rockefeller Special Studies Project of the 1950s, led by Dr. Henry Kissinger, to generate American strategic choices and organizational changes to respond to the challenges posed by the Soviet Union in the earliest days of the Cold War. It is that same model which SCSP embraces today.

“This is a golden moment for U.S. government leadership.”

Competition is SCSP’s organizing principle. Strategic competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), amidst the current wave of technological innovation, is the defining feature of world politics today. The United States must continue to out-innovate competitors and lead the development of future technologies. The geopolitical, technological, and ideological implications of this competition cannot be addressed in isolation – they must be managed together in a comprehensive competitive approach. To that end, we seek to help develop a new public-private model that is better suited to the geopolitical uncertainties of this competitive era, one in which technology will ultimately determine who leads and who follows.

To meet this moment, SCSP launched a focused effort to assess what the rise of GenAI means for the United States, our allies and partners, and the competition with strategic rivals. Bringing together leading experts in this fast-moving field, the SCSP Generative AI Task Force developed a range of recommendations – incorporated into this report – for the U.S. government, allies and partners, industry, and academia to address the challenges and opportunities that GenAI presents for national competitiveness. These included ways to foster responsible innovation and harness the transformative power of GenAI, while addressing ethical concerns and potential risks. 

The GenAI moment demands similar action and a comparable sense of urgency and consequence. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that the ongoing AI revolution aligns with our democratic values and promotes global freedoms, given the profound implications of this technology for our national security and society. The journey of AI – particularly GenAI – is far from over; we are only just beginning to understand the ripple effects of this transformative era. But with careful navigation and proactive strategies, we can steer this Age of AI towards a more secure and prosperous future.