Building Bridges Between Emerging Technologies and Policy: Insights from a Homeland Security Expert

March 21, 2024

In this episode of The Professionals Podcast, Amanda and Luke are joined by Nick Reese, co-founder of Frontier Foundry, which is a leading DC area AI company.

Title: Navigating the Frontier of Policy and Technology

As I reflect on my career journey, one thing stands out: the evolving landscape of policy and technology. From my early days as a cyber policy analyst to my current role shaping the future of governance in the age of AI, the intersection of these two fields has been both challenging and exhilarating.

I started my journey at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where I served as a cyber policy analyst for three years. Coming in with a background in offensive cyber operations, I quickly realized the importance of bridging the gap between cybersecurity and emerging technologies. It became clear that expertise in one area did not necessarily translate to proficiency in another.

One pivotal moment during my time at DHS was our endeavor to draft an executive order on artificial intelligence, which eventually became known as Executive Order 13960. This directive aimed to establish trustworthy principles for the use of AI in the federal government, a task that required navigating complex terrain where policy and technology intersect.

A significant challenge we encountered was the need to reconcile the divergent expertise within our team. We recognized that cybersecurity experts, while invaluable, could not single-handedly address the complexities of emerging technologies like AI. This realization prompted DHS to form a dedicated team focused on evaluating technology and crafting strategic policies—a team I had the privilege of leading.

Before my tenure at DHS, I spent six years in the intelligence community in a collector role. While I found the work fascinating, I yearned to transition to policymaking, where intelligence could directly inform strategic decisions. This desire led me to pursue opportunities where I could leverage my experience to shape impactful policies.

One of the key lessons I learned along the way is the importance of effective governance in managing technological advancements. As we grappled with the rapid pace of innovation, I realized that governance structures must evolve to address not only the risks of using AI but also the risks of not leveraging its potential.

My journey eventually led me to co-found Frontier Foundry, where we focus on developing AI solutions to detect and mitigate risks. Through my involvement in the Homeland Security Advisory Board, I am committed to shaping educational programs that equip future professionals with the skills needed to navigate the dynamic intersection of policy and technology.

My career journey underscores the critical need for interdisciplinary expertise in addressing the complex challenges of our digital age. By fostering collaboration between policymakers, technologists, and other stakeholders, we can harness the transformative power of technology while safeguarding against potential risks. As we chart the course ahead, I remain optimistic about the opportunities that lie at the nexus of policy and technology, and I am eager to continue driving positive change in this space.