Jun 13, 2017

Among jobs to be automated in the coming years: spy

Gerald Nino, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

A senior American spymaster says he's out to automate much of the bread-and-butter monitoring work carried out by intelligence agents.

At Foreign Policy, Jenna McLaughlin writes that Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, has set out to automate three-quarters of imagery intelligence currently carried out by his agency. That includes monitoring TV, drone, satellite and other video feeds from around the world.

Not everyone is convinced: Ultimately, the work product of espionage can lead to war, and some experts worry that a bad algorithm could result in a disastrous policy error.

But the mountain of data is too much not to automate: Much data collection is drudgery — agents can miss key imagery amid fast-growing video. Cardillo is telling his analysts that the shift won't result in fewer spies, but more sophisticated analytical work for them to carry out.

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GOP sees more hurdles for Trump as coronavirus crisis drags on

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans are increasingly concerned not only about President Trump’s daily briefings but also his broader plan to ease the nation out of the virus crisis and back to work. This concern is acute — and spreading. 

Why it matters: Trump can easily address the briefing worries by doing fewer, but the lackluster bounce-back planning is what worries Republicans most. 

Pandemic forces startups to shift gears

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Spaces CEO Brad Herman had an early warning about COVID-19 because his startup supplies VR attractions to a number of theme parks in China. Realizing that the business he spent the last few years building was going to evaporate, Herman quickly found a new way to apply his team's know-how: helping companies host Zoom teleconferences in VR.

Why it matters: Many startups are rethinking the viability of their core businesses in the wake of the coronavirus. Spaces' move is one of many such pivots likely to crop up in the coming months.

International coronavirus treatment trial uses AI to speed results

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The first hospital network in the U.S. has joined an international clinical trial using artificial intelligence to help determine which treatments for patients with the novel coronavirus are most effective on an on-going basis.

Why it matters: In the midst of a pandemic, scientists face dueling needs: to find treatments quickly and to ensure they are safe and effective. By using this new type of adaptive platform, doctors hope to collect clinical data that will help more quickly determine what actually works.

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