Dissecting the current demands of defense and security at this year’s Microsoft Secure conference, Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith considered the collective nature of cybersecurity – a field that, perhaps even more so than others, relies on a concerted and conscious effort from both the public and private sectors. Indeed, governments can appreciate the danger in hacks and ransomware – threats that can challenge their constituents’ safety locally and intervene in domestic politics – and private companies, like Microsoft, have focused their attention on the impact of digital safety, privacy, and responsible AI.
In particular, Smith expounded upon the role of AI — alluding to ChatGPT’s recent integration with Microsoft search engine Bing – understanding its growing influence in driving innovation in a multitude of fields, including cybersecurity.
In evaluating AI’s rapid development, Mr. Smith offered us the analogy of Ford’s Model T. Ford Motor Company released several different car models prior to the introduction of the Model T and it was from these respective models’ releases and real-world use that the Model T struck widespread success, transforming the automobile industry and the process of manufacturing. Relatedly, it’s from the release of generative AI – which, as Smith noted, has recently “exploded into the center of public consciousness” – that we collect feedback and open the door to quick and constant improvement. Five years after the start of the Ford Motor Company and the release of the Model A, the Model T was introduced. Only by experimenting with our version of generative AI’s Model A, consulting real-world use, reviewing feedback, and incorporating material changes can we produce a smoother-running, further-reaching AI Model T.
Of the Model T, Ford once said, “I will build a motor car for the great multitude… It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.”¹ We can imagine AI to rival these ideals – to be attainable by the great multitude, practical for daily use, and subsequently and inevitably interwoven into the fabric of everyday life.
AI can enhance and augment cybersecurity in a few vital ways – as a copilot for cybersecurity professionals’ work, as a productivity enhancer, and as a translator. AI offers the medium through which we can communicate complicated nuances in cybersecurity to professionals in non-technical roles and thus educate a broader audience on the current and future needs of security.
AI offers one answer to an urgent need in cybersecurity – namely, a dearth of cybersecurity professionals. For every two cybersecurity jobs filled, Smith notes, a third remains open. Microsoft is also addressing this need with an active engagement in attracting and educating people new to the tech sphere, with the objective of training 250,000 cybersecurity professionals by 2025. The mission to attract and educate people new to tech includes the release of a digital curriculum, which impacts a budding workforce globally; “training the trainers,” or educating and empowering faculty in community colleges; and bridging the gap for those who can’t currently access these resources by providing financial assistance.
Looking to the future of cybersecurity while combatting the current challenges of a needing workforce, Microsoft is working to hone its tools in AI while empowering and attracting new talent. This addresses two goals Smith noted: “Strengthening cybersecurity in the world and creating opportunity for people in the world.”
August 12, 1908 – The first Ford Model T is assembled – This Day In Automotive History