AI Experts and WVPU Alumni Advancing Cybersecurity, Humanitarian Logistics, University Tech

For more than a decade, Webster Vienna Private University (WVPU) alumni Gregor Jarisch and Franz Weber have known that artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful, enduring tool that will impact everything from higher education to cybersecurity. 

The business partners met at the 2017 Webster Vienna Alumni Symposium, where Weber was on the alumni team organizing the symposium, and Jarisch was a member of the panel as student representative. Weber graduated from Webster Vienna in 1995 with an MBA. Jarisch graduated from Webster Vienna in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications. 

Last month, Jarisch and Weber convened once again in Palais Wenkheim for the the Alumni Symposium entitled “Defending Against the Unknown: The Role of Cybersecurity in Building a Safe Digital Future.” More than 70 attendees welcomed their custom-built tool named "Heddi" that provided answers to moderator questions.

Heddi, a generative AI character, was powered by ChatGPT and orchestrated through Labs.ai’s Enhanced Dialog Driven Intelligence (E.D.D.I.) platform. Labs.ai, an Austrian firm specializing in conversational AI technology, was co-founded by Weber and Jarisch after nearly 15 years of development. 

On Oct. 18, Weber also presented a student workshop about the ethical use of AI, where students discussed the principles and challenges of ethical use of AI.  

franz weber

Franz Weber; Photo by Philipp Lipiarski

What follows is an email interview with Weber and Jarisch, edited for clarity and length. 

WVPU: As a leading expert in AI technology, can you explain some of the recent advancements in AI and machine learning that have the most potential to revolutionize the field of cybersecurity? 

Franz Weber (FW): Generative AI assistants can help to improve the work of cybersecurity analysts significantly. Threats can be identified earlier and more accurately. They do not need to find the needle in the haystack anymore. AI can do this much better and faster and also alert fatigue can be avoided, as the computer never gets tired.

WVPU: AI-driven cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated. What measures do you believe organizations should take to defend against these advanced threats, and how can AI play a crucial role in bolstering cybersecurity?

FW: Organizations should even more invest in awareness training for their employees. Here an AI chatbot can help to make the training more interesting and easier to consume for the employees. 

gregor jarisch

Gregor Jarisch

WVPU: Within the context of geopolitics and current events, humanitarian issues often involve complex data and logistics. How can AI technology assist humanitarian organizations in improving crisis response, resource allocation and the delivery of aid to affected populations? 

Gregor Jarisch (GJ): I think of AI as a rapid analyst. It can sift through massive amounts of data in real time, which is incredibly useful for predicting upcoming crises. When we talk about resource allocation, AI can look at past crises and current needs, and work out the best way to distribute resources. As for aid delivery, it's all about logistics. AI can see where the hurdles are on the ground and suggest the best routes to get aid to those who need it most efficiently. 

WVPU: The use of AI in addressing humanitarian challenges raises ethical questions, such as bias and accountability. What strategies and best practices should organizations adopt to ensure AI is used responsibly in humanitarian efforts, and what role should policymakers play in regulating AI's involvement in these contexts? 

GJ: First and foremost, it's about transparency and understanding the data we're feeding into these AI models. We have to be certain they're trained on diverse and unbiased data. Regular checks and audits are a must. And policymakers? They play a pivotal role. They need to set guidelines that ensure AI is used ethically in these humanitarian situations. Collaborative efforts between tech experts, humanitarian agencies and policymakers are the key here. 

WVPU: AI has the potential to streamline various administrative tasks, but it also raises concerns about cheating and plagiarism in a university environment. How do you see the balance between AI's benefits and the need for university students to truthfully cite their use of the technology? 

FW: Students should use the benefits of AI in their daily work. Here it is important to stress that responsible use of AI needs to be present at any moment. This should be part of daily student life, and the university has to address these ethical principles from the very beginning.  

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