Palo Alto Networks CEO calls generative AI a boon for customer satisfaction and company efficiency

Palo Alto Networks’ CEO Nikesh Arora lauded generative artificial intelligence in the cybersecurity space on Tuesday, telling CNBC’s Jim Cramer the technology has the potential to maximize efficiency for customers and workers. 

“I think there’s going to be tremendous amounts of efficiency and customer happiness driven from [generative AI] at one end,” Arora said. “I think at the other end, it obviously has tremendous opportunities in the way it can drive efficiency at how companies are run.”

Arora said generative AI will allow the company to double in size within the next few years without having to proportionally scale employees. Using an AI model, Arora’s team was able to create a marketing narrative for one of Palo Alto’s new products in record time. Typically, the task might have taken six people to complete over two weeks. Instead, generative AI was able to finish the project in four hours. 

But he also stressed that AI in general is nothing new to Palo Alto, as the company’s been using that technology to solve cyber security issues for years. 

Despite generative AI’s productivity benefits, Arora acknowledged its dangers and potential for misuse by bad actors. 

“We’re generating malware, we’re trying to see how to protect customers from that, we’re generating new techniques for attacks using generative AI in our labs to see how we produce antidotes and solutions and make those available to our customers, so the bad outcomes of AI can be protected against,” he said. 

One of the biggest concerns about generative AI is its capacity to create deepfakes — pieces of media that have been digitally fabricated but seem real — usually to present a false narrative or spread misinformation. Arora said society as a whole will undoubtedly have to contend with deepfakes, but that he’s convinced workarounds will be found eventually. For example, he said he’s already heard discussions of people creating safe words so as not to be fooled by deepfakes or bad AI. 

Palo Alto’s Tuesday earnings report saw the company’s total revenue grow 24% year over year, slightly topping consensus estimates with $1.72 billion.

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