UPDATED with expert analysis WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has created a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) that will have oversight over almost all service and defense agency AI efforts. This coordination function is crucial to the emerging AI arms race with Russia and China, experts told us. The JAIC will report to Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, the establishing memo by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says. Its ambit is not quite untrammeled; any projects under $15 million remain the authority of the service or agency. The JAIC will establish a common set of AI "standards….
The Department of Defense issued an unclassified summary Tuesday of its strategy for the accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence for military applications. Then-Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the classified strategy in June 2018. The summary further details many things DOD has revealed since last June, like the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), which is the focal point of the strategy. The unclassified document emphasizes the "urgency, scale, and unity of effort" needed to make AI transformational both for the DOD and the nation. In that respect, CIO Dana Deasy told reporters Tuesday, it works in step nicely with the AI executive order President Donald Trump issued Monday, introducing the administration's plan for American leadership in the development of artificial intelligence.
In the 1960s, the Department of Defense began shoveling money towards a small group of researchers with a then-fringe idea: making machines intelligent. Military money played a central role in establishing a new science--artificial intelligence. Sixty years later, the Pentagon believes AI has matured enough to become a central plank of America's national security. On Tuesday, the department released an unclassified version of its AI strategy, which calls for rapid adoption of AI in all aspects of the US military. The plan depends on the Pentagon working closely with the tech industry to source the algorithms and cloud computing power needed to run AI projects.
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan last Wednesday issued a memorandum that officially establishes the Defense Department's (DoD) new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), confirming statements made by Secretary James Mattis and other DoD officials in April that a center to house DoD's roughly 600 AI projects was forthcoming. The JAIC will be established and guided by DoD CIO Dana Deasy "with the overarching goal of accelerating the delivery of AI-enabled capabilities, scaling the Department-wide impact of AI, and synchronizing DoD AI activities to expand Joint Force advantages," Shanahan said. The director of the JAIC will report directly to Deasy. The goal for the JAIC is to enable DoD's various components "to swiftly introduce new capabilities and effectively experiment with new operational concepts in support of DoD's warfighting missions and business functions," Shannon said. The first step in the establishment of the JAIC tasks Deasy with reporting back within 30 days with an initial list of national mission initiatives – "large-scale efforts to apply AI to a cluster of closely related, urgent, joint challenges" – to be launched within the next 90 days, proposed resource allocations for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and personnel requirements.
At Google's campus in Mountain View, California, executives are trying to assuage thousands of employees protesting a contract with the Pentagon's flagship artificial-intelligence initiative, Project Maven. Thousands of miles away, algorithms trained under Project Maven--which includes companies other than Google--are helping war fighters identify potential ISIS targets in video from drones. The controversy around Silicon Valley's cooperation with the military may intensify in coming months as Project Maven expands into new areas, including developing tools to more efficiently search captured hard drives. Funding for the project roughly doubled this year, to $131 million. Now the Pentagon is planning a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to serve all US military and intelligence agencies that may be modeled on Project Maven.