The DoD Gets Organized on AI

Joint Artificial Intelligence Center established and long-term AI strategy to be released soon


One month ago, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced the creation of a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) designed to unify the government’s research and development related to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The center will operate under DoD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, and is expected to onboard roughly 200 researchers in the next two years. The JAIC will encompass all AI projects exceeding $15 million. The standup of the center is in response to China and Russia’s considerable investments in the technology and is also an acknowledgement that AI will play a pivotal role in the future of national security and warfare.

Brendan McCord, head of machine learning for the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in Silicon Valley, gave a progress report on the nascent JAIC at a recent Defense Innovation Board meeting. McCord identified four goals the Pentagon has set for JAIC: to accelerate results; to staff world-class AI talent; to collaborate with the private sector, academia, and military allies; and to enforce the National Defense Strategy.

Though a comprehensive plan and project list hasn’t been finalized, the Department is preparing to release a document in the coming weeks that will detail its long-term AI strategy and resource allocation. The DoD’s cyber strategy, also slated to be released soon, will include additional details.

Early projects under JAIC will follow the model set by Project Maven, in which the Air Force uses AI to analyze full-motion video footage. The center will first hear service requests from industry or elsewhere to address problems that could conceivably be solved using AI—for example, identifying certain types of objects in remotely sensed imagery. Then the center will seek partnerships with industry contractors and academic institutions, working with those partners to develop operational AI solutions. Project Maven will be one of the first and largest undertakings for JAIC researchers, despite recent controversy surrounding Silicon Valley parnerships.

A top priority for the JAIC will be to develop a code of ethics for military AI use—principles that would ensure human rights are upheld when the technology is deployed.

Additionally, NextGov reports, as the DoD requests billions of dollars in funding from Congress for JAIC and its projects in the next few years, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will likely take interest in how that money is spent and may pass legislation regulating which AI applications take priority.

Photo Credit: NVIDIA/Kespry

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