DOD sketches strategy for AI

On the heels of the White House executive order on artificial intelligence, the Defense Department released its plan for securing AI capabilities to support the warfighter.

The Defense Department released its artificial intelligence strategy Feb. 12, thrusting the newly created Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to the fore.

The 17-page summary with an accompanying fact sheet outlines DOD's plan to boost AI capabilities through rapid prototyping, increased research and development and targeted training and recruitment. It also calls for creating a "common foundation of shared data, reusable tools, frameworks and standards, and cloud and edge services" for the warfighter.

"The impact of artificial intelligence will extend across the entire department, spanning from operations and training to recruiting and healthcare,” DOD CIO Dana Deasy said.

The strategy designates the JAIC, which sits under the CIO and is led by Lt. Gen. John "Jack" Shanahan, as the focal point and integrator of AI capabilities and policy. More specifically, JAIC is responsible for identifying, delivering and scaling prototypes across DOD, coordinating lessons learned and supporting components and the military services.

Additionally, JAIC will team with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is currently exploring how AI technology can explain its decision-making to humans as part of the AI Next campaign.

DOD is planning for stable and long-term research funding, but the strategy document doesn’t mention the impending 2020 budget. According to the fact sheet, “The department is identifying budget and resource impacts for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.”

The strategy is thin on specifics of how DOD plans to increase its AI workforce but emphasizes needed investments in R&D, training, recruiting as well as partnerships with academia and industry.

The strategy also attempts to quell job security fears, saying AI won’t replace service members or DOD workers: “The women and men in the U.S. armed forces remain our enduring source of strength; we will use AI-enabled information, tools, and systems to empower, not replace, those who serve.”

The DOD strategy comes a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to invest in AI technologies through workforce training, current and future programs, development of technical standards and support of automation.

The White House directive, which created the American AI Initiative, also established dominance in the AI realm as an official policy position.

“The present moment is pivotal: we must act to protect our security and advance our competiveness,” the DOD document states. “But we must embrace change if we are to reap the benefits of continued security and prosperity for the future.”

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