The event was closed with an informative question and answer session during which the public was invited to question our presenters. Below is a summary of the discussions.
How does AI apply in highly regulated fields?
If the use case exists to use data, you should use it – even if the platform/system is highly regulated.
There’s a lot of hype around AI applications, and rightly a lot of excitement about what the future holds. However, just because we want AI to be a success doesn’t mean we should be afraid to say “No”. At this point, we need to take each proposed AI use case and approach it with the right mindset – what is the outcome you’re looking to achieve?
Are we in an arms race with China/Russia?
Technology doesn’t always give you the edge. War is very complex and different countries approach it with a different mindset. For example, in the West, the primary unit is centered on the individual. While in the East, the main unit is the state – that’s why they will sacrifice a large number of people to protect the motherland.
In many ways, this is ethical. In the UK we have what’s called the ‘daily mail test’ – basically if something goes wrong will it get splashed in tomorrow’s headlines? It is the media and the general public who set the ethical bar, and then the government’s aversion to collateral damage that will determine how AI will be accepted as a defense. And at the end of the day, AI will always be judged at a higher level than humans – that’s part of the challenge facing our industry.
Where is fiction in the development of science?
Today’s AI is not advanced enough to allow us to delegate too much responsibility to technology. Applications are too narrow, making technologies prone to adversarial attacks where bad actors try to “trick” the AI, for example by painting a tank to look like a tree so that it goes undetected . Additionally, poisoning attacks, where data is injected with vulnerabilities, can affect the accuracy of the result.
Follow a design-led process and you build resilience into development to reach a point where you know the output can be trusted because you’ve put specific checks in place along the way.
What education do we need around AI?
One of the most dangerous ideas we need to master is the perception that AI technology is magic and can solve any problem. We even hear politicians making statements like “blockchain can solve Brexit border issues”. And this goes back to the problem highlighted at the beginning of the conference:
What is AI?
Fortunately, industry has influence over what politicians do with AI through groups, like the BCS AI Community Interest Group and the AI Expert Groups in Brussels. If we can help lawmakers fix the fundamentals, we’ll get everyone talking the same language and more progress can be made.
Who has the capability and skills to deliver AI in defense? And do we have the right people?
BCS has been running its community interest group on AI for over 40 years, but we can’t ignore the war on talent. New grads coming out of college are in such high demand that they can name their price, which is usually well above what the defense industry can afford.
Therefore, we need to be creative in how we approach future talent. If you can find people with more generic IT skills – like testing, infrastructure, systems architecture, and design principles – you can train them to understand how the military works and train them to understand the military. ‘IA so they can speak the language with confidence. Rather than looking to hire specific skills, which are then difficult to retain, we need to invest in creating the right environment to support and develop people. Learn more about BCS AI certifications.
BCS offers a range of AI certifications to help level up your teams. In addition to aligning yourself with SFIAplus, a globally recognized skills benchmark, you join a global community of 60,000 members who are committed to advancing our industry. As a BCS member, you can also join specialist groups and branches, access mentorship, and we provide everything you need to facilitate ongoing professional development.
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