Crystal Washington, Tech Trends Expert, Leading Futurist and ISC West Keynote Speaker, Highlights How ChatGPT Will Shape the Security Industry

Crystal Washington photo

On Friday, April 12, 2024, ISC West attendees will gather for an engaging, informative Day 3 keynote from Crystal Washington, technology trends expert and one of Forbes’ Leading Female Futurists. In this special talk presented by the Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum and sponsored by dormakaba and HID, Washington will explore the current state and future of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and how to harness tools like ChatGPT for enhanced performance.

“I started a digital marketing firm back in 2007,” said Washington, reflecting on getting started in tech, “because the company that I worked for in corporate America, when I went to them and said hey, ‘I have a feeling this social media thing is going to be huge,’ my boss basically told me I needed to stick to what I knew.”

Washington left that position, started her firm and worked her way up from “mom and pops” to having contracts with companies like Google, British Airways and Microsoft. She then studied futurism and foresight at the University of Houston to better understand those models.

“I already thought in a way where I could perceive signals and kind of see trends before they happened, but when I found out that there was a whole discipline behind this, I [thought], ‘I need to connect with these people,’” she said. “And so that was my beginnings into foresight.”

Following the explosion of generative AI on the scene in late 2022, Washington was well equipped to help consumers and businesses understand it.

“[The rise of AI] was a huge boon in technology, and a lot of people were very lost and confused,” said Washington. “My background is that I’m really good at consuming highly technical information but then being able to translate that into a way that people [who are] not familiar with the tech jargon can understand.”

SIA spoke with Washington about key trends and challenges with generative AI and how these tools can be used by both security companies and the general public to strengthen their productivity.

Without spoiling your talk at ISC West, what’s one quick prediction about how ChatGPT could shape the security industry?

Crystal Washington: The main way that it’s going to impact the security is it’s going to make the industry more in demand. There will be explosive need for more cybersecurity and updates to many of the systems that are used when it comes to voice recognition, facial recognition, all those different things, because we’re now able – using generative AI specifically – to create deepfakes [and] clone voices, and so bad actors will have more tools to work with.

Generative AI tools have received criticism for hallucinations, errors and even biased responses – but clearly there are real applications, too. Given the security industry is all about trust and many of us are concerned about our digital exposure from a cybersecurity and data privacy standpoint, what are some distinct applications of generative AI that can be trusted for application to our professional lives?

CW: Specifically when we talk about generative AI, it’s as good as the data it’s programmed with. I think it has a great deal of application in your industry from a security standpoint when it comes to using generative AI models that are not open – so those that are very specific to an organization that are cut off from greater models. You have the ability to really control what information is in there, which means you have a greater control on the output as well. So I think that kind of more secure application is probably the best option.

Business leaders are excited about generative AI opportunities but also are still somewhat hesitant to adopt applications like ChatGPT due to concerns over things like their business source code or proprietary business data being ingested. What kind of safeguards can businesses put in place to make sure their employees can take advantage of AI applications without exposing their firm’s unique value or private data?

CW: This is [similar to the last question], where you’re having a company – and there’s organizations that do this now – basically fence in your data. I know some are saying it’s 100% secure – it is not. If you’re uploading any of your organization’s data to ChatGPT or Google Genesis or any of those types of tools, it always poses a security threat, but the education of the users is the most important thing. When you have people that don’t really understand what generative AI models do and they upload sensitive data, or they upload things that maybe aren’t technically sensitive but probably should not be shared and should not be used to train with an external model, that’s the bigger problem.

On a personal level, outside of business or professional applications, what are a few generative AI-powered functions you’d recommend giving a try to boost personal productivity?

CW: You can use [generative AI] for a lot of things. You can use it when it comes to gift shopping – when you explain to it a few characteristics of someone and you’re looking for a good gift under [a certain dollar amount], [it can] provide links … things like that. Organizing things around the house, organizing schedules – it’s really great at that. My husband and I use it to find new shows to watch on streaming services because there are so many options, it’s hard to choose, so we tell it some of our favorite shows and kind of what we’re looking for, and the specific services we have subscribed to, and then it pops out with some pretty incredible recommendations. So that’s not business-related, but it’s fun and it kind of makes you more productive in your enjoyment.

The ISC West Day 3 Keynote, presented by the SIA Women in Security Forum, takes place on Friday, April 12, at 10 a.m. on the Venetian Ballrooms Main Stage. During this event, attendees will also recognize and celebrate the inspiring women leaders honored in the 2024 SIA WISF Power 100. Learn more here.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association.