What the CIA’s Tech Director Wants from AI
Dawn Meyerriecks says staying ahead of Russia and China isn’t as hard as getting U.S. leaders to listen to their own artificial intelligence analysis.
Should the U.S. fear growing Russian progress in artificial intelligence? Last week, Vladimir Putin told students, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” That caught the interest of noted AI phobe / profiteer Elon Musk who tweeted, simply and ominously: “It begins…”
But the CIA’s head of technology development has a different take. Dawn Meyerriecks is less worried about rival nation states might use AI to outflank the United States than about getting U.S. leaders to believe what AI is telling them. “If I want to increase [ certainty in a particular AI-aided assessment] what goes into it? What do I need in order to make a really good assessment on the back-end because that tells me what sort of collection I need to raise confidence to go address national leadership?”
The CIA currently has 137 pilot projects directly related to artificial intelligence, Meyerriecks, the CIA’s deputy director for science and technology, told the Intelligence and National Security Summit in downtown DC. These “experiments” include everything from automatically tagging objects in video (so analysts can pay attention to what’s important) to better predicting future events based on big data and correlational evidence.
“Can we back into correlations with cause and effect that will allow us to be more predictive with what’s about to go down, like the North Koreans are about to launch this or about to do this. We have that in pockets,” she said.
When asked whether she was worried that U.S. prowess in artificial intelligence was falling behind that of China and Russia, Meyerriecks said, “I bet on the innovation and on the systems engineering of the United States every time. One of the things we talk about with In-Q-Tel [the CIA’s venture capital arm] is, as long as we’re going faster than everybody behind us, I don’t want to think about how we find them off [from catching up to the U.S. in AI]. I just want to go faster than they can keep up. If there’s a bear in the woods, you just have to be faster than the slowest person.”...MORE
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