Should the U.S. fear growing Russian progress in artificial intelligence? Last week, Vladimir Putin told students, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” That caught the interest of noted AI phobe / profiteer Elon Musk who tweeted, simply and ominously: “It begins…”

But the CIA’s head of technology development has a different take. Dawn Meyerriecks is less worried about rival nation states might use AI to outflank the United States than about getting U.S. leaders to believe what AI is telling them. “If I want to increase [ certainty in a particular AI-aided assessment] what goes into it? What do I need in order to make a really good assessment on the back-end because that tells me what sort of collection I need to raise confidence to go address national leadership?”

The CIA currently has 137 pilot projects directly related to artificial intelligence, Meyerriecks, the CIA’s deputy director for science and technology, told the Intelligence and National Security Summit in downtown DC. These “experiments” include everything from automatically tagging objects in video (so analysts can pay attention to what’s important) to better predicting future events based on big data and correlational evidence.

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