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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.

Podcast Version:

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.

Additional Resources:

A Practitioner’s View of Corporate Intelligence

Organizations in competitive environments should continually look for ways to gain advantage over their competitors. The ability of a business to learn and translate that learning into action, at speeds faster than others, is one of the most important competitive advantages you can have. This fact of business life is why the model of success in Air to Air combat articulated by former Air Force fighter pilot John Boyd, the Observe – Orient – Decide – Act (OODA) decision loop, is so relevant in business decision-making today.

In this business model, decisions are based on observations of dynamic situations tempered with business context to drive decisions and actions. These actions should change the situation meaning new observations and new decisions and actions will follow. This all underscores the need for a good corporate intelligence program. See: A Practitioner’s View of Corporate Intelligence

Optimizing Corporate Intelligence

This post dives into actionable recommendation on ways to optimize a corporate intelligence effort. It is based on a career serving large scale analytical efforts in the US Intelligence Community and in applying principles of intelligence in corporate America. See: Optimizing Corporate Intelligence

Mental Models For Leadership In The Modern Age

The study of mental models can improve your ability to make decisions and improve business outcomes. This post reviews the mental models we recommend all business and government decision makers master, especially those who must succeed in competitive environments. See: Mental Models for Leadership In The Modern Age

An Executive’s Guide To Cognitive Bias in Decision Making

Cognitive Bias and the errors in judgement they produce are seen in every aspect of human decision-making, including in the business world. Companies that have a better understanding of these cognitive biases can optimize decision making at all levels of the organization, leading to better performance in the market. Companies that ignore the impact these biases have on corporate decision-making put themselves at unnecessary risk. This post by OODA Co-Founder Bob Gourley provides personal insights into key biases as well as mitigation strategies you can put in place right now. See: An Executive’s Guide To Cognitive Bias in Decision Making

OODA On Corporate Intelligence In The New Age

We strongly encourage every company, large or small, to set aside dedicated time to focus on ways to improve your ability to understand the nature of the significantly changed risk environment we are all operating in today, and then assess how your organizational thinking should change. As an aid to assessing your corporate sensemaking abilities, this post summarizes OODA’s research and analysis into optimizing corporate intelligence for the modern age. See: OODA On Corporate Intelligence In The New Age

Useful Standards For Corporate Intelligence

This post discusses standards in intelligence, a topic that can improve the quality of all corporate intelligence efforts and do so while reducing ambiguity in the information used to drive decisions and enhancing the ability of corporations to defend their most critical information. See: Useful Standards For Corporate Intelligence

In Business, Like In War, Data Is A Weapon

Broadly speaking, a weapon is anything that provides an advantage over an adversary. In this context, data is, and always has been, a weapon. This post, part of our Intelligent Enterprise series, focuses on how to take more proactive action in use of data as a weapon. See: Data is a Weapon

Fine Tuning Your Falsehood Detector: Time to update the models you use to screen for deception, dishonesty, corruption, fraud and falsity

The best business leaders are good at spotting falsehoods. Some joke and say the have a “bullshit detector”, but that humorous description does not do service to the way great leaders detect falsehoods. Bullshit is easy to detect. You see it and smell it and if you step in it it is your own fault. In the modern world falsehoods are far more nuanced. Now more than ever, business and government leaders need to ensure their mental models for detecting falsehood are operating in peak condition. For more see: Fine Tuning Your Falsehood Detector: Time to update the models you use to screen for deception, dishonesty, corruption, fraud and falsity

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of OODA LLC, the technology research and advisory firm with a focus on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity which publishes OODALoop.com. Bob is the co-host of the popular podcast The OODAcast. Bob has been an advisor to dozens of successful high tech startups and has conducted enterprise cybersecurity assessments for businesses in multiple sectors of the economy. He was a career Naval Intelligence Officer and is the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Find Bob on Defcon.Social