If you listen to the narrative that is taking place today relating to artificial intelligence, you would believe that this is a new phenomenon. It isn’t. My father was for many years a project manager for International Computers Ltd (ICL) and can recount stories about computing intelligence (or a very primitive version of it) whilst becoming very animated at its beginnings. Today, ‘F-Secure’ states that artificial intelligence and machine learning are being applied more broadly across different industries and applications than ever before, and cyber security is no exception. When we talk about artificial intelligence (AI), we refer to a broad concept of machines being able to mimic cognitive functions and carry out tasks such as classification, anomaly detection or grouping of samples to effectively perform problem solving in a way similar to how humans would. Machine learning, on the other hand, could be considered an application or materialisation of AI that’s based on the idea that we can give machines access to data and use algorithms that allow machines to learn the solutions to problems from the data by themselves.
Already for decades a huge amount of machine learning algorithms have been presented in scientific literature and are being utilised also in applications all around us. While most current AI solutions are narrow in scope, focusing on a specific problem (the “what”) instead of looking to mimic the breadth of human cognitive functionality (the “how”), there’s evidence of the effectiveness of such solutions. From self-driving cars to movie recommendation engines, applications of AI are already more efficient than humans in several scenarios when set to focus on a task and given enough data.
There are clear benefits to be seen in the development in artificial intelligence (AI) in the cyber security sector and it will undoubtedly transform the cyber space, hopefully for the better. But the current uncertainty about how businesses interact, deploy, utilise and benefit from AI may have a knock on effect with regards to the security preparations that organisations should be making. Cognitive technology can assist in harmonising critical infrastructure delivery with supply chain provision; the digitisation and monitoring of healthcare services can be supported by medical concerns widely expressed on social networks; and security systems can be even more effective when integrated with intelligence systems.
But AI can only work when it is paired with human understanding. And there lies the challenge. No matter what industry or sector you work in, a realisation of how AI can benefit the resilience of our growing societies and our businesses can only be achieved if it features within our organisational education programmes, or even the state schools if it comes to that. Greater engagement with technology accelerators and incubators will help to shape the existing market created by technologists into what we as a society really need. Perhaps we should be also be ensuring that we have the skills necessary in specialist education facilities to continue the inevitable development of AI beyond a 10 to 15 year vision and I do hear that technical colleges are making a comeback in the UK. One thing is certain; we need to think differently and think smarter if we are to increase the profits and reduce the loss. AI friend or foe? I say ‘friend’.
nStratagem is able to help organisations realise the true potential and benefits of AI and how it relates to your organisation at both the strategic and operational levels.
I look forward to your comments
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Brett Lovegrove is an Associate of nStratagem and a past Head of Counter Terrorism for the City of London Police. We have a great deal of experience in helping organizations and leaders through these issues and challenges. Contact us for a discreet discussion.
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