Battle Looming Between AI And Counter-AI, Says Pentagon Official


By David Vergun

The Defense Department is just at the start of using artificial intelligence. Peer competitors are as well, said Jude R. Sunderbruch, executive director of the DOD Cyber Crime Center, who spoke Thursday at the Google Defense Forum.

Sunderbruch predicted that in the future, there will be a battle between AI and counter-AI, which will lead to the question: “What is the truth in front of us?”

“I would not hesitate to call it an arms race but a strategic competition when it comes to artificial intelligence,” he said.

Sunderbruch said the United States is well positioned to advance in the AI space.

“I’m feeling very confident about betting on the creativity of the United States and our partnerships between the government, industry, academia and small startups,” he said.

The near-term goal is to figure out how to use the currently existing AI tools and to figure out how to apply them to information that the government has layered with other information that is out there, he said, as well as training the AI models with a variety of useful information.

In another near-term goal, the department is probably going to be able to apply some of the AI tools for threat analysis, and also to look at vulnerabilities, he said.

“I think a lot of those capabilities will be able to be applied to actually testing our systems, both in the government as well as the defense industrial base to see how secure they are,” Sunderbruch said.

Sunderbruch also predicted that there will someday be “a confluence between quantum and AI, which will be a real game-changer.”

Army Col. Richard Leach, intelligence director, Defense Information Systems Agency, who also participated on the same panel, addressed the role of AI in helping to sort through the “tsunami of data” coming in that needs to be processed, analyzed and provided to decision makers.

There’s a need for AI to sort through all the data in looking for adversary threats instead of an analyst reading hundreds or thousands of reports every day, he said.

“Let AI identify key pieces of information and maybe do some of the basic analysis. Let the analysts focus on the hard problem set so they’re not wasting time, resources and people,” Leach said.

“Adversaries are trying to get past our boundaries and our securities every day. They’re moving at ‘lightspeed.’ They’re on fiber optic networks. They’re able to bounce from one VPS [virtual private server] to another in an instant, so utilizing AI to try to get ahead of that is going to be essential,” he said, referring to virtual private servers.

Using AI to help in understanding the environment is important, he said. The environment is changing every day. Every time somebody changes their network, updates their patches or reconfigures the network, they change the environment and the battlespace, he said.

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