With the release of ChatGPT in November 2022, the promises and pitfalls of artificial intelligence have quickly returned to the fore of discussion around the world. Twenty years ago, Mr. McCary worked in the artificial intelligence office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. There, he saw firsthand how AI was developed and used, where it succeeded, and where it failed.

Now, 20 years later, Mr. McCary is an analyst at a drone unit in the United States Army. The issue has once again returned and the world is faced with a pressing question: What can the robots do?!

Using examples drawn from firsthand experience developing natural language processing software for the Department of Defense, OSINT on AI-enabled weapons systems, firsthand knowledge of unmanned aviation systems and other anecdotes, Mr. McCary will lead the audience through a recent history of artificial intelligence, exploring its uses and failures.

With an eye towards OSINT, Mr. McCary will demonstrate live the use and misuse of ChatGPT, as well as lead an interactive discussion with the audience regarding the ethical use of AI in relevant areas such as OSINT, defense, intelligence and weapons systems.

Learning Objectives

  • History of AI in defense and machine translation
  • Limits of AI in intelligence and machine translation
  • Ethics in artificial intelligence


John McCary is an adjunct professor of OSINT at the University of Arizona’s Cyber Center of Excellence, a course he developed several years ago. Mr. McCary is also the owner of Port 194, LLC, a data and analytics company leveraging OSINT techniques and custom software solutions to efficiently and effectively answer pressing customer requirements. Mr. McCary has held a number of positions in the United States government. He served as an Arabic-speaking interrogator in the US Army and won a bronze star for his combat tour in Anbar Province, Iraq as a sergeant in 2003. Mr. McCary also received recognition from the Secretary of State for authoring the Human Rights Report in Haiti in 2012 while serving as a foreign service officer in US Embassy Port-au-Prince. Mr. McCary spent several years managing artificial intelligence and natural language processing programs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he led the creation of a program of record still in use by the US Army today. Mr. McCary has been featured in major news outlets including the Washington Post, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, NPR and others. Mr. McCary also appears in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Operation Homecoming – Writing the Wartime Experience.