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OODAcast: Michael Kanaan, Author of T-Minus AI Discusses Artificial Intelligence and Global Power

Michael Kanaan has helped a wide swath of decision-makers better grasp the nature of AI. He has a knack for expressing complex topics in clear, accurate and succinct ways and many of us in the national security community have already had the pleasure of hearing from him in person or in conferences.

His book, T-Minus AI: Humanity’s Countdown to Artificial Intelligence and the New Pursuit of Global Power, provides context and insights in a way that can help concerned citizens and business leaders better grasp the issues of AI. He gives us all a call to action to learn more because as he makes clear in the book, the countdown to AI is actually over.

In this OODAcast we explore a bit of what makes Kanaan tick, and dive into his motivations for this book. We discuss what citizens should know about AI and what business leaders can do to prepare their companies for success in the coming age.

You will find Michael to be very plain spoken. When asked to define AI for us, he approached it in a way we have never heard before, starting with a reminder that on the Internet CATS are everywhere so he wants to use that as an acronym/nemonic. CATS is a reminder to always consider that when a person is talking about AI they may be referring to a Concept, and Application or a Techniques. So when you hear someone talk about AI, be sure to know which the speaker is referring to.

We especially loved at the 10 minute mark in the discussion when he put AI into the context of the OODA loop. He thinks of AI as best in the observe and orient side of the OODA loop, since this is AI doing what it does best, but wants the decide and act part of the decision process to always be a human job.  We tend to agree of course, except in use cases where humans have decided the machines are ok to act.

We asked Michael his views on the security if AI and coming issues of the threat and ways to mitigate threats to AI. His view: just like building trust with humans, we need to build trust with AI, and it will take time to do that.

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Michael’s Bio:

Michael Kanaan was the first chairperson of artificial intelligence for the U.S. Air Force, Headquarters Pentagon. In that role, he authored and guided the research, development, and implementation strategies for AI technology and machine learning activities across its global operations. He is currently the Director of Operations for Air Force / MIT Artificial Intelligence. In recognition of his fast-rising career and broad influence, the author was named to the 2019 Forbes “30 Under 30” list and has received numerous other awards and prestigious honors–including the Air Force’s 2018 General Larry O. Spencer Award for Innovation as well as the US Government’s Arthur S. Flemming Award (an honor shared by past recipients Neil Armstrong, Robert Gates, and Elizabeth Dole). Kanaan is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and previously led a National Intelligence Campaign for Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq.

 

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley