US defense department outlines its AI strategy

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Shortly after President Trump issued his vague AI executive order, the US Defense Department outlined a more comprehensive strategy.

“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.

A 17-page document outlines how the DoD intends to advance its AI prowess with five key steps:

  1. Delivering AI-enabled capabilities that address key missions.
  2. Scaling AI’s impact across DoD through a common foundation that enables decentralized development and experimentation.
  3. Cultivating a leading AI workforce.
  4. Engaging with commercial, academic, and international allies and partners.
  5. Leading in military ethics and AI safety.

Given the concerns about the so-called AI ‘arms race’, that final point will cause a sigh of relief in some people – at least for those who believe it.

The DoD will rapidly prototype new innovations, increase research and development, and boost training and recruitment.

Rather than AI replacing jobs, the DoD believes it will empower those currently serving: “The women and men in the US armed forces remain our enduring source of strength; we will use AI-enabled information, tools, and systems to empower, not replace, those who serve.”

Prior to his resignation as US Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis implored the president to create a national strategy for AI. With his defense background, Mattis was concerned the US is not keeping pace with the likes of China.

Here are the example areas in which the DoD believes AI can improve day-to-day operations:

  • Improving situational awareness and decision-making.
  • Increasing the safety of operating equipment.
  • Implementing predictive maintenance and supply.
  • Streamlining business processes (e.g. reducing the time spent on highly manual, repetitive, and frequent tasks.)

“The present moment is pivotal: we must act to protect our security and advance our competitiveness,” 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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