Global developments in recent years have injected a new sense of urgency into the U.S. intelligence community. On the heels of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and in light of emerging factors like Chinese spy balloons, nuclear developments and a heightening sense of competition between the world’s great powers, the IC is getting more serious about updating its tradecraft, harnessing new technologies and maintaining superiority over adversaries.
One particular area of focus for the IC is artificial intelligence. Juliane Gallina, associate deputy director of digital innovation at the Central Intelligence Agency and Wash100 Award recipient, listed AI and machine learning as one of the top five emerging technologies critical to today’s IC missions in a video interview with Executive Mosaic.
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The CIA backed up its AI priorities with the establishment of the director of AI position in January 2022 and the appointment of Lakshmi Raman to the role.
“Our agency leadership realized how critical a coordinated effort is to the success of both our operational and analytic missions. Bringing together the pieces of the agency that need to move forward to successfully deploy large scale AI and machine learning requires the ability to influence culture, technologies and processes in order to have a major impact on our mission,” Raman said at the Potomac Officers Club’s 4th Annual AI Summit.
“A lot of work is underway to ensure the CIA’s success in becoming a mature and AI-driven organization, as well as expanding our understanding of adversaries’ use of AI and machine learning capabilities,” she added.
As the agency is aligning its AI strategy with national security priorities, it is also exploring potential uses for new and emerging AI tools like generative AI and chatbots, whose popularity has skyrocketed in the commercial world over the past few months.
“We definitely need to be exploring ways in which we can leverage new and upcoming technologies,” Raman said of using generative AI, adding that the CIA will be approaching the area in a “disciplined way.” Raman also noted that the CIA is figuring out how to embrace a more “flexible innovative approach for AI” even if that approach poses more uncertainty and new challenges for the agency.
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