Artificial Intelligence for public good

When it comes to technology, there’s no arguing that the trend of the year is artificial intelligence (AI). AI is discussed simultaneously as the answer to — and the source of — all our problems.

I know from my years of experience serving public sector organizations that it can be overwhelming when a new trend comes along. Suddenly, everywhere you turn — from your inbox to your news site — you’re inundated with tips, tricks, and ads on how this technology will solve the challenges faced by government technology teams. But the hype around AI is warranted, and while it has reached new levels, AI itself isn't new. Large language models and generative AI may pave a new future, but core cybersecurity tools already use AI processes to augment human capabilities.

Many recent AI headlines have focused on the threat of unchecked AI applications. But let’s stop for a moment and focus on the benefits: the aspects of AI that can strengthen our national security, improve trust in government, and deliver better services to the American people.

So, what should governments be thinking about when it comes to realizing the potential of AI?

AI to secure against AI

The benefits of AI systems stem from their economies of scale and ability to automate tedious and time-consuming tasks. When it comes to cybersecurity, AI can help to solve some of our most vexing problems.

In the age of low-quality, high-volume attacks, AI algorithms are an indispensable tool in the arsenal of security teams. AI can take vast quantities of data from divergent sources, including open-source intelligence, dark web monitoring, and security feeds, and aggregate and analyze the information to reduce the time dedicated to benign alerts.

The best way to create holistic AI defenses lies in the intelligent Identity layer that provides visibility and transparency into the threats most likely to challenge access solutions. 

How are we using AI to help?

Artificial Intelligence “for good” isn’t new in cybersecurity. Threat actors move fast, and their methods are increasingly sophisticated, so AI helps give defenders the upper hand. The cyber industry has been training security analytics technology on threat intelligence and contextual data for a long time. The goal is fast, accurate, and automated detection and response so attacks either fail completely or their impacts are minimized. 

At Okta, for example, we analyze anonymized login data from across the world with Machine Learning (ML), the subset of AI that uncovers complex patterns to identify and stop Identity-based attacks. We also use contextual data like device security posture, location, and other factors to assess real-time risk. But we haven’t stopped there. Todd McKinnon, Okta’s CEO, recently shared initial thoughts on what the AI paradigm shift means for Identity.

Another key area that AI can play a role in is helping improve the capabilities of our workforces.

Boosting workforces and building trust

At a point when the chasm between cyber talent supply and demand continues to expand, AI provides promise for public sector leaders to optimize their operations and empower their workforce by enabling new, automated capabilities to protect critical networks. Many of the more sensationalist conversations around AI and workforces tend to oppose the two, suggesting that AI will eventually replace human workers. But the reality is that the best organizations will always know how to leverage the combined power of people and technology. 

But cybersecurity teams are not the only ones positioned to reap the benefits of AI. Deploying AI technologies can enable data-driven insights that help government technology teams build better user experience (UX). For example, by leveraging advanced analytics, UX developers can improve service personalization based on detecting patterns in user traffic and data. More tailored experiences for communities engaging with public sector applications can help promote trust in government services and boost service growth and user adoption.

There’s lots of work to be done

At Okta, we’re committed to opening informed conversations around global Identity threats. We partner with the market and public authorities to leverage accessible Identity data to share transparent insights and analysis. Regardless of the technology providers used, secure networks protect our physical, national, and economic security.

Digital transformation is a term that is well-known in public sector circles. It is an ongoing process that is more like a journey than a destination. AI merely represents another technology transformation altering how our government works to serve, protect, and defend the public. As a trusted partner of governments, Okta is working to turn these new challenges into massive opportunities.

Find out more about how Okta helps public sector technology teams build secure and seamless services for their users: