The Pentagon has tapped artificial intelligence ethics and research expert Diane Staheli to lead the Responsible AI (RAI) Division of its new Chief Digital and AI Office (CDAO), FedScoop confirmed on Tuesday. In this role, Staheli will help steer the Defense Department's development and application of policies, practices, standards and metrics for buying and building AI that is trustworthy and accountable. She enters the position nearly nine months after DOD's first AI ethics lead exited the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), and in the midst of a broad restructuring of the Pentagon's main AI-associated components under the CDAO. "[Staheli] has significant experience in military-oriented research and development environments, and is a contributing member of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence AI Assurance working group," Sarah Flaherty, CDAO's public affairs officer, told FedScoop.
The Pentagon's new Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) has hired nearly a dozen senior leaders to serve in its top positions -- and met its June 1 deadline to reach full operating capability, FedScoop learned Wednesday. This news comes nearly six months after the Department of Defense launched a major organizational restructure to place a number of technology-driving components under this newly established office, with the ultimate aim to better scale digital and Al-enabled capabilities across its massive enterprise. "Following a multi-step process from [initial operating capability] to FOC the CDAO has fully merged and integrated the former component organizations of Advana, Chief Data Officer, Defense Digital Service, and Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Legacy component names will no longer be recognized or used unless attributed to a product or capability specific to the department," according to a statement from CDAO's spokesperson. Diane Staheli was also recently tapped to lead the CDAO's Responsible AI (RAI) Division.
The Department of Defense today announced that the Pentagon has hired Lyft Inc. head of machine learning Craig Martell as its first-ever chief digital and artificial intelligence officer. Martell will head up the DOD's Chief Digital and AI Office, which was created in December in order to centralize oversight of its data and AI initiatives under a single office in the Pentagon. As the person in charge of the CDAO, Martell will report directly to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. The CDAO launched with limited operational capability in February and is expected to achieve full operational capability by the end of June, FedScoop reported. He also has prior U.S. military experience thanks to his service as a tenured computer science professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he specialized in natural language processing.
It has been six months since the Department of Defense adopted ethical principles for artificial intelligence. Since then, the department's Joint AI Center has faced the daunting challenge of taking that conceptual work and scaling it to develop actionable guidance for the rest of the military. The goal is to give anyone who works in technology development -- from contracting officers to software developers -- a "shared vocabulary" for building ethics into any DOD work involving AI. What's at stake, leaders say, is ensuring that the DOD uses the emerging technology in ways that uphold the department's values while managing potentially huge shifts in the "character" of warfare. The first step is to agree on a document that turns the principles into clear guidance.
Despite a summer of controversy surrounding the use of artificial intelligence for military purposes, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says it has no problem garnering interest in its AI research projects. "We don't see that we are having problems engaging with industry," Valerie Browning, director of the Defense Science office at DARPA, said on a Washington Post event panel last week. DARPA recently announced a $2 billion campaign called "AI Next" aimed at "third wave" AI research. The goal is to get the technology to a place where machines adapt to changing situations the way human intelligence does. Responding to a question about whether and how Google's decision to end its work with Pentagon AI initiative Project Maven has impacted DARPA, Browning downplayed any effect.