Tiedemann’s guest speakers discuss artificial intelligence and cybersecurity
Palm Beach Daily News
By William Kelly
February 13, 2020
The United States should return to paper ballots to safeguard future elections from computer hackers, an expert told a Palm Beach audience Monday.
Paper ballots are the new “best practice, cutting-edge technology,” former Ambassador Douglas Lute said during a discussion on cyber security at the Brazilian Court Hotel.
Lute was appointed by President Barack Obama as the U.S. permanent representative to NATO from 2013 to 2017. He is a retired Army lieutenant general who was President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser to coordinate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
About one-third of Americans still vote on machines connected to the internet, which means they are vulnerable to hacking, Lute said.
A foreign adversary can use that ability to erode confidence in our electoral system, he said.
Despite being rattled by Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, “our nation is not moving fast enough to confront the threat of cyber attacks from our adversaries,” he said. “I’m really concerned about November.”
Lute was one of two speakers at Monday’s luncheon and discussion, which also focused on artificial intelligence. It was hosted by Tiedemann Advisors and moderated by Michael Greenwald, a director with the firm.
The other speaker was Michael Chertoff, who was secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009.
Russia and Iran aren’t likely to seek a military confrontation with the United States because of its superior military and because this country has so many allies throughout the world, Lute said.
But cyber warfare is an avenue where they can exploit our weaknesses by undermining our democracy and fostering even deeper gridlock in Washington, Lute said.
Chertoff agreed, saying, “If you can break the hearts and minds of your opponent, they don’t fight as effectively.”
Lute said he believes Iran will seek retribution, through cyber attacks or terrorism, against the United States for the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Chertoff is the author of the book, “Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age.”
He said virtually all Americans have a digital trail that makes it easier for strangers to snoop on them, and everyone is vulnerable, including people who don’t engage in social media.
If you use credit cards and a cellphone, everything from your location to your financial records is in the cyber sphere, Chertoff said.
“You are generating data,” he said.
Lute agreed, saying, “So much of our data is out there now, we’re not going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle.”
The question is whether you have a right to know who has your data and to control how it is being used, Chertoff said.
China is more advanced than the United States in artificial intelligence, Chertoff said. “I don’t think their math is better than ours, but they do have more data.”
Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of computers to analyze massive amounts of data. But it’s not intelligence in the human sense of the word, Chertoff said.
“Judgment, doubt, skepticism — I’ve not yet heard of a machine that can do that,” Chertoff said.
Tiedemann Advisors is a wealth management firm with roughly 420 families as clients and more than $22 billion in assets.
It is headquartered in New York with eight other offices in the United States, including one in Palm Beach.
Jim Bertles, managing director, said Tiedemann clients have expressed questions and concerns about data security. The firm has devoted a lot of effort and money toward developing firewalls and monitoring and threat-detection systems, he said.
“We’ve never had a breach, but (cyber security is) expensive to do,” he said.