Balancing Act: Knowing When AI’s Risk is Worth Reward

Forrester analysts weigh the pros and cons of implementing artificial intelligence in an organization.

Shane Snider , Senior Writer, InformationWeek

November 15, 2023

2 Min Read
Jeff Pollard, Forrester vice president and senior analyst, and Forrester principal analyst Allie Mellen, talk about the risks and rewards of AI adoption during the company's Security & Risk event.Photo by Shane Snider for InformationWeek

Artificial intelligence has become a veritable gold rush in the past year as organizations begin to look for ways to implement the emerging technologies. But there are some major inherent security concerns and other big risks.

Is it worth taking the plunge now?

Forrester analysts Jeff Pollard and Allie Mellen seem to think so. During their keynote presentation Tuesday at Forrester’s Security & Risk event in Washington, D.C., the duo made a case for adopting AI despite the risks, as the rewards are too great to pass up.

“Yes, this brings new threats,” Pollard said. “Yes, it brings new risks. But all of those things are necessary for it to bring new opportunities … AI is going to help your team solve some of the most critical problems.”

GenAI is Living Up to Hype

Unlike the hype surrounding a metaverse that has yet to materialize in a meaningful way, AI is different, Pollard said. “When you look at what’s happening with generative AI, in particular, the catalysts are all lined up. There’s significant funding for this. There have been beta tests at scale… This can be delivered as part of existing software and tech stacks.”

Pollard said the speed of AI adoption is causing a lot of anxiety in the CISO world. “This is moving so fast… and that scares a lot of CISOs. It scares a lot of legal teams and rightfully so. Risk is a four letter word when it comes to emerging technologies. But what I want you to do is start thinking about risk and substituting a different word. And that word is trade-offs. Because trade-offs are the everyday language of risk.”

Related:How CISOs Can Navigate Cybersecurity Regulations: Forrester Panel

In the near term, GenAI will be very attractive for senior-level workers, Mellen said. “Ultimately, generative AI and security tools are going to be very useful for those folks who are experienced and more senior level because they have been itching for a tool that is going to help them validate what’s happening in the environment and respond faster.”

AI Hacking Risk Ranks Lower Than You Might Think

While adversarial AI used by cyberattacks is a real concern, Mellen said attacks will take longer to develop with AI. “First, logistically, it’s actually very difficult. You can’t just hack into all of these machines and voila, you have a bunch of money,” she said. “There’s a lot from a software perspective. You have to build around it to make generative AI useful for [hacking].”

Even without AI, breaches are on the rise and the cost of attacks is increasing, Mellen said. “What do they need generative AI for?”

Breaches and attacks by nation-states will be another story, Mellen noted. “All those deep faces, especially for nation-states are going to be very popular. We’re going to see that a lot more next year, especially with the number of elections happening.”

Related:Forrester CEO on GenAI, ‘Death of the Web’ and ‘Technology Thunderstorms’

About the Author(s)

Shane Snider

Senior Writer, InformationWeek, InformationWeek

Shane Snider is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. He started his career as a general assignment reporter and has covered government, business, education, technology and much more. He was a reporter for the Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh News and Observer and most recently a tech reporter for CRN. He was also a top wedding photographer for many years, traveling across the country and around the world. He lives in Raleigh with his wife and two children.

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