The top 7 people in artificial intelligence defense



Shyam Sankar, the CTO of Palantir.

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Developments in AI defense tech are moving forward quickly as global tensions escalate, and Silicon Valley leaders hope that innovations in the field could help deter future conflicts.

Business Insider has identified the top 100 people who make AI intelligent. Here are our picks for defense tech.

Ken Bedingfield

Ken Bedingfield, the CEO of Epirus.

Epirus


Bedingfield became the CEO of Epirus in late 2022 after serving as the company’s CFO and COO. Bedingfield was previously the CFO and chief accounting officer at the defense giant Northrop Grumman. Epirus is developing a system that uses high-power microwaves to knock out drone swarms. It recently won a Navy research grant with the University of Oklahoma’s Advanced Radar Research Center to use AI modeling and other techniques to extend the range of these systems.

Bradley Boyd

Bradley Boyd, a Marine veteran and former Army officer is studying the rise of automation in military systems.

Hoover Institution


Boyd is a Marine veteran and a former Army officer. He was also the director of AI-enabled warfighting-capability development at the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. As a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, he studies the rise of automation and autonomy in military systems and how the adoption of emerging technology affects military, economic, and social stability.

Kathleen Fisher

Kathleen Fisher, the leader of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office.

DARPA


Fisher leads the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Information Innovation Office and oversees most of the agency’s AI research and development, including the AI Forward Initiative, which conducts AI research for national-security missions. DARPA has dedicated over $2 billion to AI research since 2018 to create new national-security capabilities and mitigate threats AI systems could pose. Fisher is also an adjunct computer-science professor at Tufts University and was previously the department’s chair. She has conducted research on the theory and practice of programming languages and preventing generative-AI security risks.

Nini Hamrick

Nini Hamrick, the president of Vannevar Labs.

Vannevar Labs


As an intelligence officer, Hamrick, the president of Vannevar Labs, spent seven years working on counterterrorism missions, including embedding with the US military overseas. She saw intelligence officers manually sifting through masses of information, often in other languages or in hard-to-access formats. Vannevar’s Decrypt service uses machine learning, computer vision, and other AI technologies to automate and speed up data collection and analysis. The startup focuses on national security and strategic competition with nation-states. “Decrypt collects overseas information that would otherwise be hard for military teams to access directly in areas around the world that are increasingly contested,” she said in a recent interview.

E. Egon Rinderer

E. Egon Rinderer, the chief technology officer of Shift5.

Shift5


Rinderer is the chief technology officer of the cybersecurity startup Shift5. Rinderer previously led the federal technology business at the cybersecurity startup Tanium and was one of its earliest employees. He has also worked for Intel and the US Navy. Shift5 builds cybersecurity software for military weapons systems, aviation, and trains and can collect and analyze data for operations, maintenance, and cybersecurity. It then uses machine learning to detect anomalies, hunt threats, and identify suspicious behaviors. Shift5 has raised over $105 million in funding, including an $83 million round this year that Insight Partners and Moore Strategic Ventures.

Shyam Sankar

Shyam Sankar, the CTO of Palantir.

Getty Images


Sankar joined Palantir in 2006 as one of the company’s early employees. Before that, he worked at the money-transfer startup Xoom. He’s also been a director at Ginkgo Bioworks and recently became the chair of that biotech company. At Palantir, Sankar was the COO for 16 years and took on the CTO role in January. The company is deploying large language models and other AI for defense customers with strict data-access and control requirements.

John Serafini

John Serafini, the CEO of HawkEye 360.

Hawkeye 360


Serafini is the CEO of HawkEye 360, a startup that develops satellites and technology for space-based radio-frequency collection, mapping, and analytics. He’s also a venture partner at Shield Capital, which invests in early-stage tech companies supporting national security. Previously, Serafini served in the US Army and has been a leader at companies including Percipient Networks and Allied Minds. HawkEye 360 is investing in AI and machine learning to better analyze the radio-frequency data it collects for communication, navigation, and threat identification. It has raised over $360 million from backers including BlackRock, Insight Partners, and Alumni Ventures.

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Rosalie ChanAlistair Barr