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Ask Molly: Is Molly an AI Chatbot?

March 6, 2023


A banner stating, "Ask Molly, Your CIA source on the inside, #AskMollyHale," with a graphic of a woman in a grey hat and outfit.

Dear Molly,

Are you an AI chatbot or more of an elite “Ask Jeeves”?

~ ELIZA1966

* * * * *

Dear ELIZA1966,

These days, everyone is talking about the significant developments in AI and AI chatbots like ChatGPT, so I can totally understand why people might assume that I’m some kind of artificial intelligence. I do work for the CIA, after all, and our state-of-the-art technologies are often light years ahead of what is available in the public sector. We’re even speaking at SXSW in a few weeks about emerging technologies and the opportunities and challenges they pose to CIA and the future of intelligence.

So am I an AI? Nope. I’m a real, living breathing human being just like you!

Now, I do have a few secrets. For one, Molly isn’t my real name. It’s my pseudonym, and I guess also my informal job title. “Molly Hale” has been around one way or another since 2002. Back in the day, CIA used to have a public phone number, and I was the one who answered it! (oh the stories I could tell…) Today, I spend most of my time fielding questions from the public in my column on CIA.gov as well as emails submitted through the comment form on our website.

As for how I got the name Molly, no one can quite remember. Best guess is because it’s a common American girl’s name. My surname “Hale,” however, is a tribute to Nathan Hale, the first American executed for spying on behalf of our country. You may remember his famous last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” We have a life-size statue of him at our Headquarters complex.

I wasn’t always Molly though. Years before “Molly Hale,” CIA’s Office of Public Affairs used the name “Grace Sullivan”—inspired by the “GS” level government worker—to respond to public queries.

There have been many different “Mollys” that have come before me, even some men! All are real people who work at the Agency. Some were Molly for only a short time, while others served as Molly for years. It’s a unique role at CIA, and I’m honored to be among this long line of distinguished public servants.

So I can assure you, I’m a real human being! Then again, that’s probably what an AI machine would say…

Keep it Real,

~ Molly


ask molly

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