WASHINGTON – Developing more complex artificial intelligence is necessary for the United States to keep pace with Russia and China, top defense technology officials said Tuesday.

Leaders from several Defense Department technology agencies told senators at an armed services subcommittee hearing that efforts are underway to create more advanced AI systems that can learn and use reasoning.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency “research efforts will forge new theories and methods that will make it possible for machines to adapt contextually to changing situations,” said DARPA Deputy Director Peter Highnam.

Lt. Gen. John Shanahan, director of the Defense Department’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, called for a greater sense of urgency in developing technology.

“The speed and scale of technological change required is daunting,” he said. “Ultimately, this [sense of urgency] needs to extend across our entire department, government and society.”