Recent calls from industry leaders to pause generative AI research would be a mistake, according to Department of Defense (DoD) leaders, who said they are leveraging the technology as a force multiplier.

At the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore on May 3, DoD leaders held a media roundtable where they discussed the potential of generative AI models, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

“I think it’d be a mistake to pause the [generative AI] research that we’re doing because our adversaries will not be pausing,” Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Director Lt. Gen Robert Skinner told reporters.

Skinner explained that he does not believe generative AI will help U.S. adversaries as much as it will help those who are novices to write malware and other capabilities.

The DISA director said that just as adversaries are leveraging generative AI tools, the United States must do the same within our defensive systems and in working with industry partners.

“The call to industry is: help us figure out how best to leverage this technology to make sure that we are safe, and that we are protected,” Skinner said. “It’s almost like a rat race, but it’s a race to figure out who can best leverage this technology.”

The bottom line, he said, is that it’s less about the AI technology itself, and more about having “authentic” data underneath.

“It very much feels like the early days of the internet – the mid-90s – when everyone was trying to figure out what the impact was, and there you saw about a decade that it took to really be deeply impactful,” said Stephen Wallace, director of emerging technologies at DISA.

Wallace predicted that generative AI will move forward much faster than the internet – which he views as a positive. He noted that the technology could be used for tagging and labeling data – something he said is “not a trivial task.”

“We see it as a force multiplier for our team,” Wallace said. “This is a way for us to augment our teams, make our teams better, and ultimately deliver capabilities across the board.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.