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Strategic Competition & Data Take Center Stage in PDDNI Stacey Dixon’s Opening Keynote at 9th Annual Intel Summit

The great power competition and its ripple effects are dramatically impacting the global intelligence landscape and reshaping how the United States Intelligence Community executes its missions. 

Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Dr. Stacey Dixon highlighted this — “the intensifying strategic competition with China and Russia” — as one of two key sets of challenges that “define the strategic landscape” today. 

“Rising great powers, regional powers and non-state entities are vying for influence, including challenging the international order, its standards and its rules,” said Dr. Dixon, a four-time Wash100 Award winner, during her keynote address at the Potomac Officers Club’s 9th Annual Intel Summit. 

“This challenge impacts almost everything in every domain — in space, air, sea, land, as well as cyber. It goes beyond military, intelligence and diplomatic affairs. It includes economic and business relationships, how information is reported, retained and used, and how we interact with one another, even on a person-to-person basis,” said Dr. Dixon.

Dr. Dixon delivered the opening keynote address at the Potomac Officers Club’s 9th Annual Intel Summit in McLean, Virginia on Thursday. Photo by Andrew Noh.

The second set of challenges include “those that transcend border,” such as the national security implications of climate change, global migration, health security and emerging technologies. 

With these strategic challenges and national security issues setting the backdrop for her remarks, data took center stage in much of Dr. Dixon’s remarks. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a new data strategy in July, which outlines how the IC aims to better harness the power of its data. 

“We are determined to create a seamless environment for our data sharing across the community,” said Dr. Dixon, referencing the IC data strategy. “This ability to better manage our data, process our data, use it, prepare it for using artificial intelligence, machine learning and other tools — all of this will help us to discover, access and leverage IC data at the speed and scale, frankly, that’s required by the mission.”

“This environment, as it’s developed and deployed, will transform how we manage massive amounts of data end to end and fully leverage the capabilities of AI and automation,” she added.

Dr. Dixon highlighted how AI can enable speed within the intelligence field, but she also warned that IC leaders must do better to cultivate a deeper sense of trust in regards to AI and how it uses data. 

“As we’re developing more capabilities with artificial intelligence and machine learning, as we’re leveraging more information that’s out there in the public sphere, [we need to be] making sure that we are building trust, continuing to build that trust with trust with the American people,” Dr. Dixon urged, noting that “there’s a lot of suspicion of the Intelligence Community.”

“There is a lot of concern with how we are accessing data that we can purchase commercially. We’re going to have to figure out how to make the public more comfortable, make Congress more comfortable with how we’re using this. And so we’re trying to develop a framework that we will put out publicly that captures how we are considering using commercially available information in intelligence,” she explained.

Don’t miss the Potomac Officers Club’s next big event, the 2023 Homeland Security Summit on Nov. 15! The lineup includes speakers from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and more. Register here

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