F-Secure builds 'swarm intelligence' to boost cyber security

shoal swarm intelligence

We hear a lot about the use of AI in improving security products, but in most cases the assumption is that it will in some way mimic human intelligence.

Finnish company F-Secure is challenging that assumption with an initiative it calls Project Blackfin. This aims to use collective intelligence techniques, such as swarm intelligence, to create adaptive, autonomous AI agents that collaborate with each other to achieve common goals.

"People's expectations that 'advanced' machine intelligence simply mimics human intelligence is limiting our understanding of what AI can and should do. Instead of building AI to function as though it were human, we can and should be exploring ways to unlock the unique potential of machine intelligence, and how that can augment what people do," says Matti Aksela, head of F-Secure's Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence. "We created Project Blackfin to help us reach that next level of understanding about what AI can achieve."

The project takes its inspiration from patterns of collective behavior found in nature, its overarching theme is to use collective intelligence techniques, such as swarm intelligence similar to ant colonies or schools of fish, to power fleets of distributed, autonomous, adaptive machine learning agents. The project aims to develop these intelligent agents to run on individual hosts. Instead of receiving instructions from a single, centralized AI model, the agents would be intelligent and powerful enough to communicate with each other and work together to achieve common goals.

The agents will learn to protect systems based on what they observe from their local hosts and networks, and are augmented further by observations and emergent behaviors learned across different organizations and industries. Local agents then get the benefit of the visibility and insights of a vast information network without requiring them to share full data sets.

"Essentially, you'll have a colony of fast local AIs adapting to their own environment while working together, instead of one big AI making decisions for everyone," Aksela adds.

This will boost the performance of an organization's IT by saving resources, but it also helps organizations avoid sharing confidential, potentially sensitive information via the cloud or product telemetry.

While the project is expected to need several years to realize the full extent of its potential, it has experienced some early success. On-device intelligence (ODI) mechanisms developed by Project Blackfin are already being incorporated into F-Secure's breach detection solutions.

You can find out more about Blackfin on the F-Secure site and in the video below.

Image credit: aquanaut/Depositphotos.com

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