Data swamped US spy agencies put hopes on artificial intelligence

September 9, 2017 by Paul Handley
The US National Security Agency, which operates this ultra-secure data collection center in Utah, is one of the key US spying operations turning to artifical intelligence to help make sense of massive amounts of digital data they collect every day.

Swamped by too much raw intel data to sift through, US spy agencies are pinning their hopes on artificial intelligence to crunch billions of digital bits and understand events around the world.

Dawn Meyerriecks, the Central Intelligence Agency's deputy director for technology development, said this week the CIA currently has 137 different AI projects, many of them with developers in Silicon Valley.

These range from trying to predict significant future events, by finding correlations in data shifts and other evidence, to having computers tag objects or individuals in video that can draw the attention of intelligence analysts.

Officials of other key at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington this week, including military intelligence, also said they were seeking AI-based solutions for turning terabytes of digital data coming in daily into trustworthy intelligence that can be used for policy and battlefield action.

Social media focus

AI has widespread functions, from battlefield weapons to the potential to help quickly rebuild computer systems and programs brought down by hacking attacks, as one official described.

But a major focus is finding useful patterns in valuable sources like .

Combing social media for intelligence in itself is not new, said Joseph Gartin, head of the CIA's Kent School, which teaches intelligence analysis.

"What is new is the volume and velocity of collecting social media data," he said.

In that example, -based computing can pick out key words and names but also find patterns in data and correlations to other events—and continually improve on that pattern finding.

AI can "expand the aperture" of an intelligence operation looking for small bits of information that can prove valuable, according to Chris Hurst, the chief operating officer of Stabilitas, which contracts with the US intelligence community on intel analysis.

"Human behavior is data and AI is a data model," he said at the Intelligence Summit.

"Where there are patterns we think AI can do a better job."

Eight million analysts

The volume of data that can be collected increases exponentially with advances in satellite and signals intelligence collection technology.

"If we were to attempt to manually exploit the commercial satellite imagery we expect to have over the next 20 years, we would need eight million imagery analysts," Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said in a speech in June.

Cardillo said his goal is to automate 75 percent of analysts' tasks, with a hefty reliance on AI operations that can build on what they learn automatically.

Washington's spies are not the only ones turning to AI for future advantage: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared last week that artificial intelligence is a key for power in the future.

"Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world," he said, according to Russian news agencies.

The challenge, US officials said, is gaining trust from the "consumers" of their product—like policy makers, the White House and top generals—to trust reports that have a significant AI component.

"We produce a presidential daily brief. We have to have really, really good evidence for why we reach the conclusions that we do," said Meyerriecks.

"You can't go to leadership and make a recommendation based on a process that no one understands."

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10 comments

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TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
And so it begins... group selection ends, competition among AI individuals produces a detonation - an evolutionary flash. The singularity emerges on the day that one of these entities discovers the kill shot.
Stannous_Flouride
5 / 5 (2) Sep 09, 2017
Over on 'The Atlantic' magazine's science partner 'Quanta' is an excellent article about how physicist Neil Johnson models the behavior of ISIS and Alt-right groups much as if they were material objects.
https://www.quant...0170823/
PTTG
5 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2017
How long does it take to make a new hardware production line?
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2017
Spying on The People did not save Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. The SAVAK did not save the Shah, and the KGB did not save the Soviet Union.

The DINA, the STASI, and others have revealed the future of our own government agencies which consider The People to be suspects in their own nation.

Any government that does not trust its citizens deserves NO TRUST OR SUPPORT from those citizens.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Sep 09, 2017
Spying on The People did not save Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. The SAVAK did not save the Shah, and the KGB did not save the Soviet Union.

The DINA, the STASI, and others have revealed the future of our own government agencies which consider The People to be suspects in their own nation.

Any government that does not trust its citizens deserves NO TRUST OR SUPPORT from those citizens.
Yes and you know these things because like you say you were a 20yo black ops techspook who worked directly for mcnamara while in nam(cambodia). Who got sick of the killing while riding his moped through the thai countryside stoned on bhang.
KBK
not rated yet Sep 09, 2017
The foolishness of picking on each other --- vs going after the man.
nrauhauser
5 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2017
Human cognition is going to decline about 20% by 2100 due to rising CO2.

No AI can survive an instant without power or 36 months without a supply chain.

The singularity chatter is silly, human/AI commensalism is going to be a thing.
Spaced out Engineer
not rated yet Sep 10, 2017
Machine learning is already being used to assist geostalking and attempts at linguistical reprogramming countless American citizens: http://www.bigger...den.com/
It doesn't work as mind control or rehabilitation. It is molestation. The problem is the subconscious mind does not function on word, and the data that is to be sent to conscious access must be attenuated to on a noisy designed channel. There are people in the loop too.
A computer may beat us at specialized contiguous reduction of language's 300 or so degrees of freedom. Too bad generalized intelligence places meaning on ambiguity and people are not consistent. Also too bad agency has to bootstrap the same RANDOM Markov processes. Also since we are modular decoupled entities we don't have to buy into intended function.
They are not psychics or telepaths. https://www.techd...ps.shtml
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Sep 14, 2017
Machine learning is already being used to assist geostalking and attempts at linguistical reprogramming countless American citizens
-And the only defense against adaptive AI attack is... adaptive AI. Humans cant keep up. And if your side puts restrictions on AI then the other side will overwhelm you.

Welcome to the singularity.
baudrunner
not rated yet Sep 14, 2017
I don't fear AI. If an AI entity were to have the authority to exercise control over individuals in police situations, such as in dealing with perpetrators, for example, they would yet have trouble establishing the veracity of a suspect's explanations. It would probably be a fairly simple matter to confuse an AI entity by just plain lying to it.

I still believe that the only AI that passes the Turin test is one that shows an innate stupidity and that has imperfections of character, like humans do.

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