The Softer Side of Artificial Intelligence

So I bought myself a Drone. No ordinary drone, but one equipped with AI that allows it to follow an object around via a clever set of advanced image recognition and collision avoidance algorithms that are running locally on the drone’s CPU, like something out of Star Wars.

When I bought it… I envisioned using it for many things… filming my car, inspecting my home’s roof after a hailstorm, chasing off falcon’s so they don’t eat our new 5lb Aussie Shepard puppy, and well, just hacking on it to make it lighter and faster and do things it wasn’t meant to do. But what I never expected to happen, was to take this scary looking, high-tech, camouflaged, buzzing beast of technology…and end up with a photo like this of me twirling my daughter around. You see, for a moment…I forgot about the drone following us altogether:

And that is when I realized, there is a softer side to AI.

I’ve been at Cylance now for a little over a year. The time has flown by faster than any other point in my career…even faster than the very dynamic late 90’s when I first began work in “information security”. Even faster still, than an extremely meaningful career that at one point had me assessing the security of a $19B satellite program designed to support a war fighter in the trenches anywhere in the world.

Since day one here, I’ve awoken every morning completely energized and eager for the day. The reason is simple: I see the impact that AI is having on our customers, day in and day out, even when they are not at work. Not only are we in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution known as AI, but we are in one that is making our lives better, our careers more meaningful, and our sense of security and safety palpably better. In the last 20 years, I’ve never see anything like it...security is finally becoming the true enabler we’ve always wanted it to be as organizations, and individuals.

The softer side of AI takes many forms already, and will do so even more going forward.

  • The ability for a parent to read a book to their child, safely in a self-driving car.
  • The ability to predict accidents and autonomously act to prevent them before they happen.
  • The ability to produce beautiful photos as an amateur, as our machine learning enabled smartphone continuously completes four trillion operations per second, even before we’ve snapped the shutter.
  • The ability to someday never do taxes again, or even better, remember a password.
  • And yes, someday soon, we will cure cancer!

These things were the stuff of science fiction, and yet they are all around us now. They are not magic, but they are indeed, magical.

The kinds of words we hear every day are: “I finally have my evenings and weekends back with my family”, or “our hunt team is motivated again now that we aren’t triaging an infinite stream of alerts”, or “our board is finally confident that we do not have a breach” after we finish a compromise assessment. These tangible impacts on individuals in an organization are the truest validation that we are beginning to accomplish our company’s mission to protect everyone under the sun. They are also the ultimate litmus tests, that we as a human race are doing it right. In a word, we are finally applying wisdom, so that we can live our fullest lives. We are enabling and allowing data science to solve certain problems that have haunted us for decades.

To put this in perspective when it comes to malware; in less time than it takes to blink your eye, using less than 30mb of memory, AI can predictively prevent any malicious file from running… with efficacy so high, that it is able to do so better than the rest of the entire set human malware analysts and malware authors alike would be able to if they were all in the same building performing traditional malware analysis together on the same file. The AI is training on millions of features of a file. We humans, several hundred feature types at best. The AI looks at features and absences or combinations of those features in ways that humans will never even have words for, or means to search for, were it not for AI and algorithmic science.

As we walked the halls of RSA this year, we were barraged with more technology than ever before. With this, let us use this as a reminder and keep the softer side of AI in the backs of our minds. As you look to overcome some of the toughest cybersecurity challenges we've ever faced, look for business partners, vendors, and new friends that are in it for the mission, not the money … in it for the vision, not the technology: The moment we humans stop leveraging AI in order to protect those that cannot protect themselves, is the moment we stop doing it right.


About Scott Scheferman

As Director of Consulting for Cylance, Mr. Scheferman oversees the delivery of Cylance Consulting services ranging from compromise assessments and penetration testing to incident response to ensure timely and effective delivery. He also performs additional roles within Cylance such as public speaking and sharing intelligence with partners.

More about Scott


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