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Why I joined Securiti?

Published December 18, 2023

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Today, I am excited to be joining Securiti, the pioneer of Data Command Center, as their first Chief Data Officer.  I thought I would share a few thoughts on why I continue to be excited about data and AI, and why Securiti is uniquely positioned to help businesses grow into the future.

A New Era of Data + AI

As we all have seen, the world of data is undergoing drastic shifts.  Just a few years ago, people were so fascinated by building dashboards and visualizations that they invented new languages to express visual concepts (my favorite remains d3.js https://d3js.org).  And then this gave way to conventional machine learning models, and all of the tools and techniques needed for data lakes, Spark processing, GPU’s and inference techniques.  Today, large language models and visual models are transforming even how we think about building applications, with hosted API’s and foundation models racing to provide more capabilities for consumers and businesses, and even redefining memes.

However, one constant remains:  all of these systems, no matter how you choose to use them, rely on your own data to be combined with their capabilities to create transformative experiences.  So if you are building a help system, or summarizing sales results, or auto-editing new commercials to run in Instagram ads, your differentiation is in the data you provide.

Why you need Safe ways to Command your Data and GenAI

Having developed and deployed AI and ML systems used by thousands of companies and millions of people, I have seen first hand how data issues can weaken the most thought through product or project plan. The data storage works, the lakehouse is accessible, and the secure connection is in place.  Now why are my answers wrong?  Why are they not consistent?  Oh now some users want their data removed — where did we use it?  Do we have to retrain?  Are your data operations in a place so you can take advantage?  Are you in command?

Gartner just released a study of whether companies were actually ready for an AI Future - and the results were not great (press release). Even getting to a strategy was a challenge, and managing the data aspects of that strategy, from security to governance to supply chain attacks, is something most CIO’s and CDO’s are just now considering.

And yes, there are 100’s of Cloud-born companies that have AI or ML at their core of product (think Uber or Etsy or the maker of my truck Rivian), but even they are challenged with the revolution in compute and innovation.  In addition, in just the past six weeks, the movement of regulations, ranging from the White House’s AI Executive order, to the UK to California, have all put forth the need to maintain data governance, correctness, security and ensure the privacy rights of individuals.

And on top of all of the innovation and regulation, cyber attackers continue to menace companies and governments.  At the end of November, hospitals in the US were diverting patients from their emergency rooms due to a ransomware attack.  Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks have happened before, and will continue to happen again - and in these cases, the first question asked is always “what did they get?”.  And unfortunately, even that question can take days and weeks to answer (see the Irish National health service cyber attack from 2021.

Being in command of your data means that you have laid down the needed protections for answering what data you have, understanding where your data is flowing, whose data is being used where, and let’s use the security to  set the foundation for the AI future ahead.

Why I am joining Securiti

So, what about Securiti was compelling to me, and why did I join?

First, I had seen their solution in action, successfully bringing together the technical components for security and privacy along with setting the table for an AI future.  Knowing what data is where, how it is connected together, what possible regulatory issues you may face, understanding how to trace a delete request, and all the 100’s of other capabilities, in a system that is usable even by me (and with great visualizations!) is something unique.

Second, and more importantly, I have seen first-hand how the experience of people changes when they are using the products, bridging the communication gaps between technology teams, lawyers, data scientists and product managers.  Hours of discussion are eliminated with a simple workflow, and a Data Command Center is something they can be proud of.  Securiti is already revolutionizing the data landscape for 100’s of companies, and moving into AI will only help accelerate the benefits.

And as for me, I am far from done working with companies and people to use, understand and love their data.   My heart is in building, whether that is new products or new businesses, and getting the chance to do that with Securiti team is something very special.  And the opportunity to work with all of the clients and partners on mapping the future of their businesses is fantastic.

So, what is next?

Well, when I first started working with AI technologies (way back in the mid 1990’s on DARPA projects! — LeatherNet Command Post of the Future we envisioned a future much like we see today - agents taking care of mundane tasks; multi-modal human-computer interaction; deep analysis and automatic simulations to come up with different scenarios.  And sure enough, we have seen some of this technology become commonplace, like SIRI spinning out of SRI and being a part of Apple, and graph reasoning permeating applications like LinkedIn and Facebook.  And now we see ChatGPT and the new Amazon Q taking the concept of personal agents to the next level, literally becoming co-pilots in Office365 (something Boeing and Airbus envisioned for years).

I think for the next few years, we will all be focussed on making these applications and capabilities commonplace and safe to use for everyone, and ensuring they are inclusive at the same time.  There will certainly be more breakthroughs, although I am not sure AGI will be upon us next year — but I do invite you to get lost in my favorite Reddit forum r/singularity.

However, the next step is already being thought through, and that is the automated actions by agents that consume the data, your data, and put it to use in novel ways.  It sounds simple at first - “Please book me a trip to Paris taking into account my meeting schedule” - but it can get infinitely more complex once these workflows extend, and the systems can seemingly act on their own.  And potentially more dangerous … not sure I want automated surgery or autonomous personal investing anytime soon.

However, regardless of the future, one thing is for certain, knowing your data, being in Command, will continue to be one of the most important factors.  So let’s go…let’s take command.

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