“It’s alive! It’s alive!”
Even if you haven’t seen the 1931 film Frankenstein, you are more than likely familiar with the story of the “monster” created by Victor Frankenstein. You may associate this cry from its titular character with the image of what Victor conjured finally opening its eyes and slowly lurching off the table.
While amusing and entertaining, this ongoing trope has a flaw that has tainted most of our memories. The fact is, in Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 novel of the same name, Victor does not excitedly exclaim when that first forward lurch occurs – but rather runs away and hides.
That’s right – fear was the first instinct met when a human, Victor, created and powered a non-human entity. While a work of fiction, was this our first brush with the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? We don’t necessarily align the year 1818 in our minds as a technologically booming era. We have certainly come a long way from shipbuilding patents equaling the heights of technology to the technology that empowers life and business today.
So why are so many of us still fearful like Victor when it comes to AI? Especially since, in its earnest efforts, most AI technology today is designed to better processes, outcomes, and experiences – not to mention ensure greater security and control. We constantly see doom-and-gloom headlines asking whether AI will replace human jobs or touting added expenses associated with implementation. There’s even an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the notion of an “AI Takeover.”
But the truth is, AI – and machine learning – technology has gotten to the point today where it is more of an anomaly if a company or business does not implement it in some form. It is so commonplace that many of us don’t even know it is there. From smart assistants to progressing the healthcare industry at a time where it needs all the efficiencies it can afford, AI is everywhere and the security industry is no stranger when it comes to benefitting from its advances as well.
Our company looks at AI as an enhancement not a replacement. We know AI can improve experiences, create greater efficiencies, and solve complex problems – but at the same time are realistic. We know that humans alone cannot possibly address and respond to the sheer amount of threats businesses face today. But we also know that machines and technology do not currently have the creativity, wit, and wisdom that humans possess.
This is an important factor in the cybersecurity industry. This realism and notion that AI is an enhancement aligns with the concepts and origins of AI itself.
Most AI we see today can be categorized as strong AI, or AGI – artificial general intelligence, and weak AI. The latter means that humans are involved in some facet of programming the technology, whereas with strong AI, technology is able to use algorithms to process, inform, and make decisions independent of human interaction. What we don’t talk about as much is artificial superintelligence (ASI), where technology gains advanced cognitive abilities that can match – or even surpass – a human.
ASI can be ideal for many industries, but we’re not quite there yet. Since most AI today is still in the strong AI stage, AKA the enhancement phase where humans are still needed to process and define what technology currently cannot: emotion. Machines cannot currently replace thinking like a threat actor – imagining scenarios that only humans experience, intuition, motive, and brain power can conjure.
Therefore, we need humans and machines working together as a team. Machines are able to keep pace with the number of emerging threats and help security operation center analysts manage a tremendous amount of data and convert it into actionable intelligence. But human skill is needed to prioritize threats based on context, insight, and consciousness that machines don’t have.
It is increasingly important to remember this as we see adversarial AI on the rise and threat actors use AI to infiltrate AI-powered solutions. With this increase, speed of response is crucial, which is where we see AI have the most impact across the cybersecurity industry when coupled with human strategy to reduce potential damage done to an organization.
Fear Not, Knowledge Will Lead the Way
We are far from the point where AI needs to invoke fear, but we have a responsibility to know the shortcomings of current AI alongside its benefits.
This open-minded outlook is critical as AI in its truest form is about intelligence – and we can always add to and grow intelligence. The concept of always-on learning levels the playing field for both humans and machines. We’re the same in this aspect in that the possibilities are endless based on what we both can conjure and create based on education, learning, and knowledge.