Artificial Intelligence Can Free Imagery Analysts to Focus More on the Unknown


Analysts at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency may spend as much as half their time poring over satellite imagery of activities they’re already familiar with, taking place in locations where everybody is already looking.

Their time could be better spent doing other things, said Susan Kalweit, director of analysis at NGA.

During an artificial intelligence-themed panel discussion here Thursday, Kalweit said human analysts could be freed up by AI to spend more time doing the cognitively difficult work of identifying and determining the significance of unfamiliar activities that take place in unfamiliar locations.

“That’s the discovery piece,” Kalweit said. “That’s where you want to anticipate where, when and how will Russia go into central Europe. That’s a key question around anticipatory intelligence. And unfortunately, because we spend so much of our time at the (other places) we have less than ten percent of our time to spend on those really key questions, the unknown/unknown, and the black swans — trying to anticipate what’s going to happen.”

Kalweit actually divvied up analyst time into four groupings, based on known or unknown locations and known or unknown activities, and offered up a Punnett square-like model as a way to visualize that.  More than 90 percent of analyst time is spent in three…

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