RSAC 2024: Secretary Blinken, AI Challenges, Opportunities

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Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

May 7, 2024

9 Slides

RSA CONFERENCE — A big message at this week’s RSAC 2024 is the power of community to prevail over ever-persistent cybercriminals.

Hugh Thompson, RSAC’s executive chairman, in his opening keynote emphasized the vast community that RSAC represents. This year’s event has attracted 40,000 cyber professionals from more than 130 countries.

“What's so interesting about this craft is that you are so open and willing to share with one another,” he said. “That's what this program is all about. That's what this week is all about.”

Based on submissions for speakers, attendees are interested in two big topics concerning AI, Thompson said.

“One is, can I use this stuff, particularly large language models (LLMs), to make what I do better?” he said. “Can I defend better by harnessing this power? But the second set is other parts of the business are applying these technologies at an unbelievable pace, faster than almost any other technology adoption. How do I know that I've got the right compensating controls? How do I know that this new evolving risk surface is under control?”

The problems that seem impossible are actually possible through community, Thompson said.

“I've seen it firsthand: Community unlocks possibility,” he said. “Individuals may be smart, but as a community we are wise, and that's actually more important. People can get overwhelmed and stalled, but a community can endure. And in that drive, individuals are strong. But as a community, we are formidable. It's important to remember that as you're doing your jobs every day. We have such a terrific community here.”

Secretary Blinken Addresses RSAC 2024

In his keynote, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said the issues that are the “bread and butter" of (RSAC) are increasingly a major focus of U.S. diplomacy.

“Today's revolutions in technology are at the heart of our competition with geopolitical rivals,” he said. “They pose a real test for our security, and they also represent an engine of historic possibility for our economies, for our democracies, for our people, for our planet. Put another way, security, stability and prosperity, they are no longer solely analog matters. The choices that we make today, that you make today will be decisive, and they will reverberate for generations. That's why it's important for me to be here with you and to share how, under President Biden's leadership, our administration thinks about this inflection point and to talk about some of the steps that we're taking to advance our technological competitiveness, to safeguard our democratic values and to maximize the potential, minimize the risk of critical and emerging technologies.”

There are three developments that have led the Biden administration to elevate technology in national security and in diplomacy, Blinken said.

“First, a new generation of general purpose, foundational technologies for transforming our world. It's no surprise we see six as particularly consequential for our national competitiveness and our national security: microelectronics, advanced computing-quantum technologies, AI, biotechnology-biomanufacturing, advanced telecommunications and clean energy technologies,” he said. “And these six are increasingly converging. Semiconductors are powering progress and AI, and quantum computing. AI is enabling new developments in synthetic biology. Digital technologies are driving advancements in clean energy technologies. The resulting breakthroughs are rewiring every aspect of our lives.”

Second, the distinction between the digital and the physical realms is eroding, Blinken said.

“Today, our cars, our ports, our hospitals, our giant data storage and computing machines are vulnerable to cyberattacks,” he said. “And the digital forces that drive our modern lives are dependent on scarce physical goods, from critical minerals to semiconductors. The third key development is technology increasingly needs to be understood as stacks, and we have to be competitive up and down that stack. That includes hardware, software, talent, and the norms, the rules and structures which govern how technology is used. So the task before us is whether we can harness the power of this era of disruption and channel greater stability, prosperity and opportunity.”

Scroll through our slideshow above for more from Day 1 of RSAC 2024.

About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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