By Gloria Larkin
In a recent article in National Defense Magazine. Kimberly Sablon, the principal director for trusted artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy at the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for the Department of Defense, discussed how the new ChatGPT chatbot is becoming a larger vision in the industry’s eye and could bolster national security. But also, could cause some unease.
To explain, ChatGPT is an AI-enabled prototype chatbot developed by San Francisco-based OpenAI that reached the market last fall. It uses machine learning techniques to answer questions in the blink of the user’s eyes. Generally speaking, the market feels there is enormous potential for users employing such large language models to disrupt critical functions across the department.
Sablon pointed out that ChatGPT could be used for such functions as intelligence analysis or to generate computer code, for instance.
However, despite all of the upside, its utilization calls for diligence concerning a number of threats it can attract. They include its use to generate malicious code, more sophisticated phishing emails, disinformation/misinformation campaigns, deep fakes (which is creating a video of a person in which their face and/or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else) and general manipulation via social media.
What can be disheartening here is that large language models like ChatGPT can be infamously off base when it comes to the simple dissemination of, and ensuring the accuracy of, facts. Sablon referred to this issue as the creation of “hallucinations.”
On that note, she moved on to how the Pentagon has made progress in the reinforcement learning realm; and how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency used an AI-generated pilot in its Air Combat Evolution program in a dogfight against a human pilot. Sablon called them “great exemplars of the breakthroughs” in this space, adding that she is “confident there is a lot more to come.”
Not mentioned in her article, and rarely considered by the early adopters is the fact that while ChatGPT and similar engines may create seemingly “great” emails and proposal responses, every piece of data used by those services is dumped back into the giant data stew and your intellectual property may likely become part of someone else’s email or RFP response. Proceed at your own risk.
Two new tools
With the number of small businesses receiving federal prime contracts plummeting by more than an estimated 50 percent in the last dozen (or so) years, the Biden administration has equipped agencies with two new tools to address potential issues in acquiring federal contracts while fostering equity and diversity in the supplier base.
The first is a supplier base dashboard to assist agencies in tracking the number of companies in a supply chain, as well as those within a certain sector; secondly, the Office of Management and Budget has released a procurement equity tool designed to help contractors identify new connections, as well as how many operate from various U.S. geographic regions.
On Thursday, June 1, small business owners and executives will have the opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with National Security Agency representatives and prime contractors in a speed-meeting format. Business-in-a-Minute will allow industry representatives to briefly present their company capabilities and inquire about NSA’s needs and requirements.
It is important to take advantage of this unique event as clearances will not be required and it is being presented specifically for small concerns that are not (yet) doing business with the Agency. It will take place at the BWI Airport Marriott, in Linthicum, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For information, go to www.nsa.gov/business/acquisition-resource-center.