Pentagon: Artificial Intelligence to Be Fully Utilized as a Tool of Warfare

Creating Artificial Intelligence quickly is a primary objective for the DOD. Ways to collaborate with AI developers are being developed to speed up this process.

On Thursday, Nand Mulchandani, the acting director of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center said that the DOD’s artificial intelligence community has moved from being “AI pioneers to being AI practitioners.” He was speaking with Pentagon reporters about what the changes in AI will mean to the DOD.

The cornerstone of the department’s efforts to adopt and scale artificial intelligence is the JAIC. They are laying the groundwork for the development of the Joint Common Foundation to make it easier for AI developers to work with DOD.

This AI development environment will broaden opportunities for AI developers across the department. It will also assist on the technology front and develop solutions for joint warfighting operations.

“When most people think about how AI is created, they think it’s all about the algorithms. While algorithms are critical, they are just one of the seven building blocks that comprise AI, the others being data, software, computing, ethics, engagement with industry and international cooperation,” said Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten.

He continued, “Algorithms, to me, are actually one of the easier problems to solve. But algorithms without the other building blocks are useless, especially when it comes to data and computing.”

Right now the Defense Department is in an important transformational period. They are taking the conceptual applications of artificial intelligence and harnessing this emerging technology to advance America’s security and prosperity, said Dana Deasy, the DOD chief information officer who spoke on Thursday at the 2020 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition.

“Since the commercial sector is leading so far out in front with AI development, it is incumbent on the department to engage with industry and cut through the red tape and paperwork,” Hyten said.

The JAIC is starting to deliver real AI solutions for the warfighter while leading the department in AI ethics and governance.

The budget for JAIC has increased from $89 million in fiscal year 2019 to $268 million in FY 2020. The department plans to spend about $1.6 billion over the next few years due to strong bipartisan support from Congress and DOD leadership.

Early returns on investment in its mission initiatives are already being generated. This ranges from predictive maintenance to business process transformation.

The JAIC recently delivered their innovative “engine health model” predictive maintenance capability and that is being utilized by Black Hawk helicopter maintainers from the Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Although the JAIC office is less than two years old, many JAIC products are now in prototype, in testing, or in production. One JAIC product helps U.S. Special Operations Command predict engine failures.

Another is helping fire officials fight the catastrophic blazes in California. U.S. Northern Command is using JAIC products to predict supply chain and logistics issues.

“We’re also making great progress in AI governance, and in implementing AI ethical principles from acquisition, development, testing and evaluation,” Mulchandani said.

AI capabilities can be tremendously beneficial for society, but a major concern moving forward is ensuring it is kept away from America’s adversaries. Allies and partners are also investing heavily in AI and it’s essential to include them and bring them in as partners.

Ethics also play an important part in AI development because ”there’s a lot of challenges about what we do with artificial intelligence in warfare,” said Hyten.

When determining where or not to engage in armed conflict, the decisions should be made by the nations human leaders, not AI.

If and when the leadership decides to use armed forces to achieve political objectives, AI should be fully utilized as a tool of warfare, remaining under the control of humans.

Ultimately AI can be used to lead to peace, but we will need to engage our partners and allies that also believe this and will work together to achieve it.

“We want peace on this planet. We want peace to be the world that our children live in. That’s the world we want. That’s what we need to use all of our capabilities for, and artificial intelligence is one of those,” Hyten said.

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