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Expert Panel Addresses Intel Data Challenges During Potomac Officers Club’s 6th Annual Intel Summit

On July 31st, Potomac Officers Club hosted the 6th Annual Intel Summit to bring GovCon leaders from the public and private sector discussed the top priorities and initiatives from intelligence agencies as the emergence of innovative technologies continues to change the landscape. During the summit, the speakers also addressed the impact technology is making on the intelligence community and how to stay ahead of the curve.

Following opening keynote addresses from 2019 Wash100 Award winner VADM Robert Sharp and John Edwards, deputy chief operating officer of the CIA, the panelists took the stage and the panel’s moderator Ryan Lewis of In-Q-Tel set the stage. He introduced Alexander Miller, Linda Foster and Dr. Andrew Jenkins and started the discussion by asking what contractual changes do federal agencies need to make?

Alexander Miller, science and technology advisor of Plans and Integration for the U.S. Army G2, answered with a warning that there isn’t a problem with artificial intelligence technology. There is a timing, placement, security and analysis problem and that people and processes are the real challenge.

He stressed that all the visuals were made for humans. As a result, the immediate need is to accelerate machine speed. Miller’s goal isn’t to take people out of the loop, but humans will need to operate the machines and it’s important to have the best data possible at machine speed to give us the best information for humans to make the best decisions.

Miller also made the crucial point that most of the data that gets collected isn’t relevant. We keep the data just in case it’s needed in the future, but most of it is without context and isn’t useful to our analysts. Linda Foster, director of Advanced Program Development Innovation for Mission Solutions & Space for Lockheed Martin, built off of Miller’s point that we need a lot of data, but the important part is to have and use the right data.

Foster explained that Wayne Gretsky was a great hockey player because he knew where the puck was going to go. Her example can be applied to the data analytics and software surrounding AI technology because knowing where to look for the right data is the start of the process.

However, there are roadblocks and restrictions because sharing data and having the right data can provide a competitive advantage. The struggle to obtain the latest and best information is a constant fight. “Our civilization is now in a constant state of update,” Foster explained.

In addition, Dr. Andrew Jenkins, chief data scientist for Maxar Technologies, noted that applying the algorithm is the easy part. It’s the data labeling and the other aspects of the process that are the real challenges ahead.

Dr. Jenkins has focused his efforts on search base reduction and how most analysts understand where to look, but his mission is to draw their attention to places where they wouldn’t normally work. That provides a wide range of data for the analysts to work and get the necessary information to know what’s possible and continue to move forward and improve.

After the expert panel, 2019 Wash100 Award winner Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley of DIA and Joshua Skule of the FBI gave a keynote address to further discuss the challenges and current state of the intelligence community to complete the 6th Annual Intel Summit.

Potomac Officers Club will host the 4th Annual Army Forum on October 2nd at the 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, Va. Thus far, Dr. Bruce Jette of the U.S. Army will be featured as a keynote speaker for the forum. Over the coming weeks, Potomac Officers Club will announce the panelists for another expert panel to discuss the Army’s current initiatives and future plans.

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