Unite.AI Q&A with Sean Gourley

Read: Sean Gourley, CEO & Founder of Primer – Interview Series, Unite.AI 

Unite.AI provides news and analysis of the latest developments in machine learning and AI technology and showcases emerging AI companies that deserve industry recognition. Founder and CEO Antoine Tardif sat down with Primer CEO Sean Gourley on the heels of Gourley’s keynote presentation at the Ai4 conference in Las Vegas about disinformation, information operations, and the AI arms race with China. 

They discussed the fast-changing mal/dis/misinformation (MDM) ecosystem, the rapid pace of AI technology advancements, the battle for control over online narratives, the manipulation of beliefs, and Primer’s role in helping government agencies and global enterprises monitor and respond to emerging threats from adversaries.

“Sean is a treasure trove of information regarding misinformation campaigns and government propaganda,” Tardif wrote. 

Excerpts from the interview include:

“All of this comes down to the world of opinion formation and the mechanics of how groups arrive at consensus. There’s a sub-branch of physics, computational physics, that’s been studying models of how opinions form, propagate, and are adopted,” said Gourley, who holds a PhD in physics from Oxford where his research as a Rhodes Scholar focused on complex systems and the mathematical patterns underlying modern warfare. 

When it comes to the thorny issue of determining truth, Gourley said, “The AI’s job is not to figure out who’s right. The AI’s job is to determine whether or not someone’s tried to actively influence you to believe one side or the other.”

He continued, “People will use artificial intelligence to attempt to persuade you. These are techniques that AI can enhance, and AI can also defend against. But we need to get away from this idea that AI can determine the truth because, oftentimes, the truth is perhaps less important than the battle for the narrative.”

“If an information operation has been conducted, we need to get real-time or near-real time understanding of what that looks like, what the motivations are, what the manipulations are, and start to act to either shut down those bot networks or start limiting the spread of that information,” Gourley said.

“We are in an AI arms race with China,” Gourley asserted. It’s a race the U.S. cannot afford to lose. “The winner of that race is going to have a very dominant military advantage over whoever is second place in that race. So China is going to pursue the components of artificial intelligence very aggressively.”

“And this is being recognized by the House Intelligence Committee,” he added. “As they’ve put together their Intelligence Authorization Act, they’ve called out, specifically, methods for detecting Chinese influence operations in the Caribbean, South America, Central America.”

Importantly, “The Intelligence Authorization Act also called out the ability to adopt artificial intelligence, the ability to use commercial off-the-shelf technologies, and the ability to deploy no code environments into these [intelligence community] organizations. There’s been some really constructive stuff coming off the Hill,” Gourley stated.

In concluding the interview, Gourley said Primer is “engaged in this mission to help support the U.S. and its allies to bring the best technology to put in the war fighter’s hands. We want more technology companies to come and join this fight.”

To learn more about Primer’s work with the defense and intelligence communities, visit https://primer.ai
Read the full interview: Sean Gourley, CEO & Founder of Primer – Interview Series, Unite.AI

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