The CIA is making use of several artificial intelligence (AI) programs that access, gather, and retrieve social media intelligence for the agency.
In a statement reported by Futurism, Dawn Meyerriecks, the deputy director for technology development with the CIA said at the Intelligence and National Security Summit that the agency had over 137 AI projects as part of "In-Q-Tel" where a large portion of it is created through collaborations with Silicon Valley firms.
With greater ability and power to analyse data, AI programs thus created have reportedly taken to social media platforms and "comb through" all public records –all the stuff that is posted by people using social media.
It is reported that a large percentage of the data that the CIA collects comes from various social media platforms. While the very act of collecting data from social media is by no means new, making use of AI to do this is. "What is new is the volume and velocity of collecting social media data," said Joseph Gartin, head of the CIA's Kent School.
It is, however, not clear whose posts are monitored, what exactly they are looking for, and the extent to which users' public profiles are scrutinised.
"Human behaviour is data and AI is a data model," said Chris Hurst, chief operating officer of Stabilitas at the summit.
Out of the 137 projects that the CIA runs, it includes, according to a report by Defense One, AI that can predict future events based on data and correlational events as well as tagging videos automatically so that human analysts can take a look at them.
"Can we back into correlations with cause and effect that will allow us to be more predictive with what's about to go down, like the North Koreans are about to launch this or about to do this? We have that in pockets," Meyerriecks said in a statement.
AI only seems like a natural progression in data analysis as, according to Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency quoted by Futurism, manually going through satellite imagery that the Agency is expected to get in the next 20 years will require eight million human analysts.
He added that they were looking to automate 75% of the current workload. If self learning AI is used, process efficiency is only expected to get better.
When questioned whether the US was lagging behind when it comes to AI development compared to China, or Russia, Meyerriecks is reported to have said, "I just want to go faster than they can keep up. If there's a bear in the woods, you just have to be faster than the slowest person."
Several industry experts like Elon Musk as well as world leaders have said that dominance in AI is important, Russian President Vladmir Putin has been quoted as saying that AI leaders will rule the world. Musk, has been vocal about his opinions about the safety of powerful AI. He tweeted that AI could either be the best or the worst thing to happen to humanity.