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

Influential podcaster and Silicon Valley veteran Niki Christoff invited Primer CEO Sean Gourley to appear as a guest on Tech’ed Up, following Gourley’s testimony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce AI Commission hearing in Washington, D.C., about AI’s role in national security.

Listen: How China’s AI Could Win a War in 72 Hrs, Tech’ed Up with Sean Gourley

“Physicist and Rhodes Scholar, Sean Gourley, founded Primer, a start-up building mission-critical AI capabilities for the United States and its closest allies. He joins Niki in the studio to discuss Silicon Valley’s ambivalence about building and selling defense capabilities necessary to protect democracies. He explains how artificial intelligence is a ‘third offset’ – following nuclear weapons and precision munitions – that could end a war in just 72 hours. And China is hyper-focused on overtaking the United States in this arms race.” Tech’ed Up (08/11/22)

Christoff and Gourley discussed the “high-stakes moment” the U.S. and its allies are in today regarding AI and democracy, the growing AI arms race with China – >a race the U.S. can’t afford to lose – and the need to sound the “alarm bell” among Defense and Intelligence Communities.

As a superpower, the U.S. must acquire the technology needed to retain decision superiority on the battlefield and beyond, Gourley said.

Gourley and Christoff also discussed:

  • Primer’s mission: to provide mission-ready AI solutions to those who protect our security and democracy
  • AI’s role in “structuring” unstructured data – text, audio, images, video – to spotlight what’s happening in fast-changing situations
  • How machines can augment manual tasks and help humans make better decisions faster

Listen: Tech’ed Up with Niki Christoff: How China’s AI Could Win a War in 72 Hrs

Read: AI in Warfare: A Race the U.S.Can’t Afford to Lose, by Sean Gourley 

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

Among the largest and most important AI conferences in the world, The AI Summit London began in 2015 when research and academia were the focus. Just seven years later, it has evolved into the industry’s foremost event, focused on the practical applications of AI for enterprise organizations and real-world solutions that are transforming business productivity. Given Primer’s growth and recent acquisitions, the time was right in 2022 to make an appearance.

Paul Vingoe, head of operations in Europe and the Middle East, represented Primer at the conference. AI Business TV reporter Ben Wodecki interviewed Vingoe to learn more about Primer and its industry-leading machine learning and natural language processing solutions for government agencies and Fortune 1000 companies.

Watch Meet the Innovators: Primer, by AI Business TV

Practical applications of NLP

Vingoe explained that while still a nascent technology, NLP is catching on quickly and users are becoming more confident in its abilities to identify relevant content from unstructured text to make better decisions. Vingoe explained how the legal sector is using AI to surface key details from unimaginable volumes of documents, contracts, license agreements, insurance policies, and other legal documents.

“It brings information to the human who can apply human judgment far quicker than they can find it by reading the documentation themselves,” Vingoe explained.

During the interview, Primer Command was processing live news media and social media, seeking out data on the Russia-Ukraine war.

“What is really powerful is in real time, you can see sentiment, you can see individuals have been named, you can see locations and organizations, you can bring that information together. What you’re seeing is the ability to, as a user, very quickly understand what’s happening in real time in a region,” Vingoe added.

The perfect example 

During the conference, the UK released their National AI strategy. This presented an opportunity to demonstrate the power of NLP. The original document, interviewer Ben Wodecki admitted, took him about three hours to read.

“Within half an hour of it being released, we summarized that 40-page document into 1,600 words and 91% compression. And then we summarized it down to one paragraph, and it’s spookily accurate,” Vingoe explained.

What’s next?

 In response to a final query on what Europe can expect from Primer in the coming year, Vingoe talked about Primer’s solutions and how they will evolve. He cited open source intelligence, tools that train models, and additions to Primer’s AI portfolio.

“We have a product called LightTag, which is a German company we’ve acquired,” he said about the data labeling solution for training models that Primer uses and then acquired in February 2022.

“We also have a product called Yonder, which does information analysis for brand management and other use cases,” he added, regarding Primer’s pioneering information manipulation analysis software. “The aim is to have a natural language processing environment that will allow our customers to access our models, and use the output of those models in their own applications in their own workflows, in their own environments.”

View the entire interview here.

For more information on Primer products, visit


Cybersecurity expert Aviva Zacks interviewed Primer CEO Sean Gourley for a profile published in SafetyDetectives. They discussed why Gourley founded Primer, the company’s mission, and how Primer’s NLP solutions support the defense and intelligence communities and large commercial customers, such as Walmart, in the U.S. and overseas. 

Download the white paper “AI in Warfare: A Race the U.S. Can’t Afford to Lose” 

When asked how Primer keeps its competitive edge, Gourley said, “It’s a fast-moving space, so we’ve made a huge investment into the core algorithms and the core infrastructure that support those algorithms. We keep pushing the capabilities forward and aim to move faster than everyone else.” 

Gourley was also asked about emerging cyber threats and new attack vectors.

“The generative side of AI is perhaps the most transformational, like when the technology really can mimic any human on the planet exceptionally well,” said Gourley. “That is going to open up a Pandora’s box as we start navigating through a world where we don’t know what’s real and what’s not.”

Gourley added, “Anytime you have a more volatile world, it opens up different attack surfaces. The pandemic is certainly creating a more volatile world. We are still in the early days of [the Ukraine] conflict, and there will be a lot more happening in the cyber attack domain.” 

Read the full article: SafetyDetectives Interview with Sean Gourley, Primer (June 30, 2022)

Read more about Primer’s AI portfolio for information operations. Request a demo of Primer’s flagship products, Primer Command and Yonder.

As information is increasingly weaponized for geopolitical gains, AI plays a crucial role in detecting disinformation, supporting de-escalation, and informing diplomacy in fast-changing environments such as Ukraine.

Fox Business News invited Mark Brunner, Primer’s head of Global Defense Strategy and a former U.S. Navy Commander, to join anchor Neil Cavuto in a discussion about Russia’s impending invasion of Ukraine. 

Brunner asserted that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “a blatant violation of international law … and a tragic development for the Ukrainian people who voted for democracy and freedom.”

Brunner also emphasized the role disinformation plays in this new era of information-based warfare, where AI-fueled propaganda is designed to create widespread confusion and distrust.

“[Putin] is conducting a master class in a disinformation campaign using a hybrid warfare version of old school armor and tanks complemented by cybersecurity threats, artificial intelligence, and Russian propaganda to essentially create confusion in Ukraine, the U.S., and among our allies. Candidly, we’re playing catch up here.”

It’s exceedingly difficult to “keep up with the narrative and the pace that Putin is setting for this conflict,” Brunner added.

Veteran business journalist Neil Cavuto interviews Primer’s head of Global Defense Strategy, Mark Brunner, on Feb. 22, 2022.


Watch the full Fox Business News interview: “Putin Invasion is ‘Blatant Violation’ of International Law” (Feb. 22, 2022)

Indeed, processing, analyzing, and drawing actionable insights from immense volumes of rapidly changing data is extremely challenging. With finite time and limited human capital, it’s certain that significant amounts of vital information are often untapped or misunderstood.

Primer’s AI and machine learning solutions allow machines to do what they do well – empowering humans to focus on what they do best – making better decisions, faster.

Call to AI Action

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence determined in March, 2021 that the U.S. is not prepared to defend itself in the AI era and must act quickly to increase its AI capabilities. Almost one year later, on Feb. 17, 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) echoed those concerns, and found that the majority of the Pentagon’s advanced AI capabilities for warfighting are “still in development” and not yet fielded. 

Primer recommends accelerated investment in AI technologies to equip the U.S. and its allies with the tools to combat this next generation of existential threats, including asymmetric disinformation and cyber campaigns, the erosion of democratic institutions and values, and increased strategic competition from our adversaries.

In high-stakes missions like these, front-line analysts, operators, and decision makers require customizable, high-performance AI models they can trust to allow them to act with agility and confidence on incoming information and achieve their mission objectives.

Why Primer

As the world continues to change rapidly, Primer is committed to partnering with organizations – across national security, civil services, financial, technology, and other critical industry sectors – to help them use AI to meet an ever-widening array of risk and security challenges and opportunities.

Whether that’s monitoring geopolitical events in real time, responding to cyber or physical security attacks, identifying disinformation campaigns, mitigating risk to brand reputation, predicting supply chain impact, tracking climate change effects, or allocating life-saving resources during natural disasters …

Primer automates the discovery and sharing of human knowledge with speed, precision, comprehension, and scale, putting the power of real-time information in the hands of change agents.

To learn more, contact Primer here.


AI can free us to be more human by automating daily tasks, especially in a world of information overload. Watch “Becoming Human: Are We Still Relevant in the Age of Artificial Intelligence?

Instead of worrying that AI will take over your job, you might consider how AI can help you do your job even better. This video shows how natural language processing (NLP) can save you countless hours analyzing endless data streams so you can spend your time being more creative in solving problems that keep you (and your boss) up at night.

“Becoming Human,” a docuseries produced by Channel News Asia (CNA), an English-language news channel based in Singapore that reaches 29 territories across Asia and Australia, explores the impact of artificial intelligence on humanity. It features Primer in a new episode about the future of employment titled “Are We Still Relevant in the Age of Artificial Intelligence?

Filmed at Primer’s HQ in downtown San Francisco, CNA depicts a “day in the life” of an information analyst. It shows how Primer’s NLP technology makes it faster and easier to sift through hundreds of thousands of data sources, summarize key points, and create reports for decision-makers who need timely, reliable insights.

The insights in these reports help people on the front lines make better decisions in high-stakes, fast-changing environments. These are the people responsible for monitoring global events in real time, identifying disinformation campaigns, anticipating supply chain or climate change effects, mitigating risks to brand reputation, managing customer services, responding to physical, financial, and cyber security threats, or allocating life-saving resources in the face of natural disasters.

Primer helps people address some of the world’s hardest problems by automating the analysis of massive amounts of unstructured data with greater speed, ease, and accuracy. Our technology transforms information overload into mission-critical intelligence so that you can drive smarter decisions and better outcomes.

A day in the life 

CNA interviewed several Primer executives to get a better understanding of the challenges analysts face daily in their jobs, and also the opportunities AI presents.

According to Brian Raymond, Primer’s VP of Government and a former CIA intelligence officer, two things matter to the job of an analyst: how comprehensive you are and if you are timely with your report. “If you’re not on time, you’re irrelevant,” Raymond added. However, no matter how many human analysts an organization hires, the rate at which data is growing exponentially makes it impossible to meet either of these goals, let alone both of them. This is where AI comes in – to aid the analyst in comprehensively summarizing the key points on time.

How difficult is this level of analysis, really? CNA sat down with Primer to learn more.

In a fun but telling experiment, Primer’s Director of Science, John Bohannon, challenged CNA’s reporter to analyze a typical five-page news article and write an intelligence report highlighting the critical “five Ws” (who, what, where, why, and when), just as an analyst would. This “everyday” task took her approximately 30 minutes. For comparison, Primer’s NLP technology analyzed the same article and created a report within seconds. Not only did Primer’s AI tool make it much faster to summarize the key points, but it also expanded the type of information pulled – Primer’s NLP also extracted different pieces of information than CNA did, highlighting the complementary relationship between humans and machines in providing valuable insight at scale.

CEO’s perspective

CNA also captured Primer CEO Sean Gourley’s perspective on the budding relationship between AI and human intelligence.

“Up until now, the only intelligence in the world that could read and write were humans,” Gourley said. “Now, we have another kind of intelligence: machines. Machines that can read and write for certain tasks just as well as humans but can do it a lot faster, with far less expense, and at a scale humans can barely imagine.”

The episode concludes with Gourley’s advice to anyone who remains skeptical about the productive nature of the relationship between humans and AI.

“AI isn’t going away. It’s got a distinct set of capabilities that are different from human intelligence, and it can do things that we humans can’t and that we’ll never be able to do because of the way we are wired biologically. Let machines be machines and humans be humans, but let’s work together to create a better kind of intelligence.”

Watch the full episode of “Becoming Human @ Work.”

Contact Primer here for more information about Primer and access product demos.


“2021 was a banner year for Primer with tremendous business growth, product innovations, and new NLP solutions for a growing set of government and commercial customers worldwide. 2022 promises even more as we continue to commercialize industrial-grade NLP for mission-critical applications.”
– Sean Gourley, Primer CEO

2021 was an exceptional year for Primer. We raised the bar in significant ways across all aspects of the company, honing our ability to deliver industrial-grade NLP solutions that are trusted by public sector and business institutions to transform “information overload” into “mission-critical intelligence” for faster human decision making and better outcomes. 

Primer’s customers are people on the front lines in high-stakes, fast-changing environments – spanning finance, retail, national security, and more – who rely on timely and reliable insights to make more informed decisions, faster. They’re analysts, operators, and business leaders – and the developers and data scientists who support them – responsible for tasks such as monitoring global events in real time, anticipating supply chain disruption, mitigating risk to brand reputation, improving stakeholder experiences, identifying disinformation campaigns, and other hard problems where a 360-degree understanding of all available data is vital. 

Primer stands side by side with our customers to help them apply advanced NLP technology to massive amounts of unstructured data – with greater speed, ease, accuracy, and agility – to achieve competitive advantage and mission-critical objectives. Today, up to 80% of an organization’s data is unstructured, according to Deloitte. It remains vastly untapped despite being critically important to providing a holistic view of an organization’s operating portfolio. That’s a gap Primer is uniquely qualified to address. 

While it’s still early days for NLP, the market is growing fast – estimated to reach $127 billion USD globally in 2028 – and we’re committed to building Primer for the long term. I’m pleased to share several examples of the investments we made last year in the people, products, and partnerships that enable Primer to achieve our mission to always better serve our customers.

2021 Primer Highlights

  • Secured $110M in Series C financing to support our strategy of becoming a world leader in NLP solutions for mission-critical applications. Funds are being used to accelerate our product development and delivery capabilities to meet a growing set of customer use cases worldwide. 
  • Expanded and deepened our customer base worldwide in both public sector and commercial markets, with major contributions from our new London and Singapore offices. With customers such as USSOCOM, Walmart, Microsoft, and others I hope we’ll be able to name publicly soon, Primer is trusted by a growing number of world-leading organizations to support their language-driven intelligence initiatives.
  • Launched significant new product capabilities – including Automate, Engines, and Command – part of Primer’s end-to-end NLP platform that makes it easy for data scientists and developers to rapidly label, build, and deploy intelligent applications on their data at scale. Primer’s pre-trained NLP models are available “out of the box” and customizable, bringing additional velocity to builders who want to deploy NLP models into production for their unique use cases. 
  • Hired top-notch talent at all levels of the company, around the world – an impressive feat in such a fiercely competitive hiring market. We were recognized as a 2022 Best Place to Work for the second year in a row, which is a testament to our commitment to building a company culture that empowers people to thrive. Importantly, our bench of investors and advisors is world class.
  • Formed strategic alliances with Microsoft and Palantir to serve mission-critical U.S. government needs.
  • Selected as a top 10 mid-stage growth company on the inaugural Intelligent Applications Top 40 (IA40) list, recognizing the top private companies Madrona Venture Group, Goldman Sachs, and top-tier venture capital firms believe will define the future of software.

That’s just a sampling of key milestones Primer achieved this past year. We’ve established a strong foundation to build on, and there’s so much more to come in 2022 and beyond. As the world continues to change rapidly, we’ll continue to step up to help our customers meet an ever-widening array of challenges and opportunities. 

My personal thanks and appreciation to all of our employees, customers, and partners – you all contribute to our mutual success. I feel immensely positive, grateful, and proud of what we are building together. It’s my honor to work with and lead such a talented, dedicated team.

I know I speak for all of us when I say we are prepared and energized to meet this year.

– Sean

For more information about Primer and to access product demos, contact Primer here.

At the recent Cipher Brief Threat Conference, NPR’s national security correspondent Greg Myre interviewed several U.S. intelligence experts to understand the most pressing threats to U.S. national security.

What rose to the surface? China and AI.

Myre describes the intelligence community’s current priorities in a story called “As U.S. Spies Look to the Future, One Target Stands Out: China.

“I call this entering the third epoch of intelligence,” said Sue Gordon, former advisor to five of the last six U.S. Presidents and the National Security Council, and current advisor to

Regarding prior counterterrorism efforts, Gordon added, we “realized that the world had become digital, and that we hadn’t been focusing on all the things we needed to. The rise of China happened during those years, and now you see us talking about Great Power competition.”

Clearly, the U.S. intelligence community is making a pivot to China. But how do they recruit the next generation of officers with the right talents and skills?

“The ideal candidate would be a fluent Mandarin speaker, with an advanced degree in artificial intelligence — and a willingness to work for a government salary,” wrote Myre.

That is “quite a unicorn…but they’re out there,” said Cynthia Strand, a 35-year CIA veteran who now leads global intelligence strategy for Primer.

“Imagine if you had a large cadre of good interns,” Strand said. “You want to put them on the tasks where they can cut their teeth and learn, and leave the higher thought work to people who have been trained and practicing for a long time.”

“Human intelligence remains critical, but technology keeps leaping forward,” Strand said.

“No one human being, no matter how exceptional they are, can consume and make sense of the volumes of data that are available. Machines can do that beautifully,” Strand added.

The story concludes citing Strand: “It’s just one example of how technology is redefining spycraft for a new era – an era that’s here to stay.”

Read and listen to the full NPR story here: