08.03.2024 • TopstoriesCybersecuritysecurity managementAI

Pierre Racz: "Real Artificial Intelligence Does Not Exist"

In part one of this three-part interview series with Pierre Racz, President of Genetec, he is addressing why IP network video systems were the game changer in the industry and why he does not like the term AI.

Pierre Racz, President and CEO at Genetec. ©Genetec
Pierre Racz, President and CEO at Genetec. ©Genetec

When you talk about thought leadership in the security industry, one name will be on almost everybody’s list: Pierre Racz, President of Genetec. Over the past 20 years, we had several interviews and inspiring talks with him in GIT SECURITY and very often the talk went beyond the security horizon. When we interviewed him this time we started to talk about global warming, had a long chat about AI, trends and hypes in the industry and ended with hygiene, cyber hygiene to be exact.


GIT SECURITY: Mr. Racz, as you know, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. So, the first question we would like to ask you is, what do you think was the greatest game changer in our industry?

Pierre Racz:
I was thinking, there were definitely a couple, but the biggest one is going digital. At Genetec, we started promoting digital video in the late 90s. I think we had our first sale in 97/98 and I remember presenting digital video to representatives of a major metropolitan city and transportation authority. One of the engineers told me after the meeting that the city is never going to use this technology. Ten years later, I met him at a trade show and he told me: “Oh, Pierre, I was so wrong.” Of course, these systems are the standard now for all the infrastructure in this major metropolitan city.

So, going digital did a few things and, of course, I expected it to happen a lot quicker. It changed two things. The first thing is obvious: We got rid of the horrible resolution analogue systems offered. But the big game changer was putting data on a network, and once it‘s on a network, you could use technologies like multicast. Before networks, video went from point to point like analogue technology, but now it can go from point to multi point.

And I remember one of our early slogans: We would say "the network is the matrix". People started to realize that they could share the video material. The primary user would be the security department. But then they could let the operations department and maintenance and other departments like marketing access that video.

How much of a game changer IP was became clear to me when I talked to a Vice President for Loss Prevention of a retail chain that went from about 100 stores to 2000 stores in under 10 years. They developed a strategy to make their parking lots “the safest place in any city in the United States.” In order to achieve that, they created partnerships with the various law enforcement agencies and installed an IP video surveillance network.

He told me back in 2006 that the Genetec software is an enterprise-shaping technology and I did not understand those words. He said, "Not only does the software make us more efficient, it also changes the way we are designing the company. The system helped the community to make places safer, it helped the merchandising people to buy the right products, and it prevented most of the loss for high margin products, in short, it was an amazing game changer. 30 % of retail crime is organized retail crime. It’s the third biggest revenue generating activity for gangs. These people hit the stores geographically and systematically." With a network video system, retailers installed an early warning system and told all the stores to watch out for the bad guys.


You did not mention AI and video analytics as the biggest game changers. Some say that the next ten years will be dominated by AI applications. What is your view on this?

Pierre Racz:
The last time we talked, I remember saying, “Real stupidity exists, but artificial intelligence does not.” I dislike the term AI, because real artificial intelligence does not exist. Very often when people mention AI, they are talking about the use of simple algorithms. For example, when it comes to speech recognition, in my eyes even the latest AI solutions are not intelligent. AI, as it is now, is mindless, and in fact, at the very best, we have achieved the intelligence of an earthworm. It will remain dependent on human oversight and judgment for decades to come. I‘m not saying that algorithms like Chat GPT don‘t work, but we must not confuse them with intelligence and unfortunately, calling it artificial intelligence is bad because already we have the word intelligence in there, and that‘s a lie.


Special Interview Series with Pierre Racz, President and CEO at Genetec


This is an article of our jubilee issue. Click on the button to find all of the interviews and the e-paper.
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