Conversation with Microsoft: AI from the battlefield to the boardroom

Watch the Microsoft High Tech Huddle with Microsoft’s Matt Hughes and Primer CEO Sean Gourley

In a fascinating conversation about the current and future state of AI, Microsoft’s High Tech Industry Leader Matt Hughes interviewed Primer CEO Sean Gourley about Primer’s passion for delivering mission-ready AI tools to the people who need them, the promise and perils of AI’s tremendous generative power, and predictions for AI’s impact on society in the months and years ahead.

Gourley described his early recognition of the importance of analyzing open source intelligence (OSINT) in the theater of war, starting with his 2009 Ted Talk. As the use of AI expands exponentially, so does the amount of data to analyze with mobile cameras and social media becoming so ubiquitous. Improvements in AI and in processing unstructured data are ways Primer helps Defense and Intelligence agencies and Fortune 500 organizations keep up with the explosion of data and make smarter decisions faster. 

“With Primer, we’re able to deploy artificial intelligence to really help people make sense of fast-moving situations and harness all the open source intelligence that’s out there,” Gourley explained.

In relation to Primer’s capabilities on the ground in the Ukraine war, he added, “[operators can] tap into the data streams they care about, whether that’s unclassified radio communications from Russians on the ground in Ukraine, or videos coming off Telegram channels of tanks rolling into cities…Primer can translate, do object detection, image recognition, and feed it all together to give a sense of what’s happening and where it’s unfolding.”

Gourley also detailed similar experiences with commercial enterprise clients like Walmart that have improved their ability to make sense of massive volumes of customer feedback – with accuracy and efficiency. He emphasized that data as it becomes more structured results in a wide range of improvements. 

“Structure gives us a new modality of interacting with the data” Gourley said. “The structuring of data allows us to reduce massively the cost of the questions that we want to ask. Machines are wonderful at reducing cost.” 

Hughes and Gourley further discuss how AI/ML will affect the development of the Metaverse and Web3, and the generative power of AI. On the flip side, Gourley also warned of the dangers of misusing the technology.

“With AI’s generative capabilities, you’ve got a two-edged sword: amazing creativity, but also very significant capabilities for toxicity and damage. As it’s probably true with any sophisticated technology, it should both delight and scare you at the same time. And these generative AI models certainly do that.”

Gourley’s final comments contain several predictions for the future, including his perspective on AI-powered conflict, Great Power Competition, and the future of language:

“We’re going to see in the next decade a fundamental shift in how we think about language. Up until the last 24 months, language has been a domain solely of humans. It has been one of the distinguishing characteristics of humans. Nothing else in our known universe has really been able to wield language with any effect. Machines are very, very quickly climbing up that curve. And in many tasks in the next decade, they’re going to exceed our ability in language. This is going to change the way that we educate students, the way we communicate inside of business environments, and it’s going to change the way we think about knowledge. It’s going to be transformational beyond belief.”

 Watch Microsoft’s High Tech Huddle with Sean Gourley