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Thought Leaders in Cyber Security: Ondrej Vlcek, CEO of Avast (Part 5)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 28th 2019

Sramana Mitra: I’m going to ask you one last question. As you’re sitting in your vantage point, what are some open problems that you could point new entrepreneurs to go try to solve?

Ondrej Vlcek: We only scratched the surface of AI. AI is obvious. Many of the jobs that we have today will become obsolete because of AI. They are already becoming obsolete.

By itself, it may not necessarily be bad for society. These things have been happening all the time since the industrial revolution. The reality is that AI is becoming a driving force of society.

AI today lives off data. In order to make AI really work, you have to feed it with a lot of datasets. The challenge is, how do you manage those datasets? How do you make sure that those datasets are not manipulated? Another challenge is the explainability of AI decisions.

These are things that are not fully solved today, which are business opportunities for companies. If you build something huge, you better go where the puck is skating. To that extent, I totally see AI as the largest opportunity that we have.

Sramana Mitra: Within the consumer security space, are there specific AI applications that you are thinking about?

Ondrej Vlcek: AI already is used in most consumer security. Even our core product, which is the anti-virus, relied on AI. It uses machine learning and deep learning to do most of its work. You would have roughly 300,000 to 400,000 unique malware attacks every day.

There is no real way to tackle that using traditional conventional methods by human labor. You need a lot of automation and reliance on real-time data. In that specific field, AI is already heavily used.

When people speak about AI, most often, people would talk about natural language or image recognition that are canonical implementations of AI algorithms. Cyber security is the third one where AI is also very prevalent. Every leading cyber security company these days already relies on AI.

Sramana Mitra: If you were a young entrepreneur starting a company, there’s no problem that stares at you?

Ondrej Vlcek: There are many problems. One is the spear-phishing I talked about. You have probably seen these new fake videos that are created by neural networks. Have you seen these Obama or Trump videos? These are videos that look authentic, but they are fake.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a perilous trend. It makes me cringe.

Ondrej Vlcek: The technology exists and it’s pretty cheap to implement. You can build something like this on a PC or even on the phone. It’s very easy. People have learned to take textual information with a grain of salt.

When it comes to audio, they’re more trusting. They tend to believe that the content is genuine. When it comes to video, the vast majority would just trust it right away.

It changes some of the fundamentals of how humans work together. It has pretty far-reaching consequences. We have to come up with quick solutions.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a very good point. It’s something that has worried me tremendously.

Ondrej Vlcek: It’s a scary thing. Fundamentally, we are not wired to mistrust video content. 

Sramana Mitra: All right. That was a very interesting conversation. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cyber Security: Ondrej Vlcek, CEO of Avast
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