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3 Ways the DOD Is Getting Serious About AI

The U.S. Department of Defense famously established the Joint Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office in 2022 to formally indicate their commitment to embracing AI. But the Pentagon hasn’t stopped there — in the nearly year and a half since the CDAO’s creation, defense officials have demonstrated a persistent interest in implementing — and helping to build — autonomous technology to make current systems more efficient and empower the warfighter.

Below, we explore three recent developments that shed light on the DOD’s future plans for AI.

If you want an in-depth look at the DOD and broader U.S. government’s AI agenda, as well as insights into future contract awards the public sector will be offering private industry, register to attend Potomac Officers Club’s 5th Annual AI Summit. The in-person event will take place on Feb. 28, 2024. If you’re in the GovCon space, you can guarantee all of your competitors will be there.

  1. Generative AI task force

The DOD believes that, in addition to staying current with new technologies, working with AI can have a meaningful impact on national security. In August, the CDAO stood up Task Force Lima, which is specifically focused on generative AI, a kind of tool that is able to autonomously respond to queries with text, images and other content. (Common examples are OpenAI’s ChatGPT program and Google’s Bard application.) 

The department envisions the task force as a collaborative effort with the Intelligence Community and other government agencies, hoping to bolster efficiency and reduce redundancy in the areas of combat, business affairs, health, readiness and policy.

“As we navigate the transformative power of generative AI, our focus remains steadfast on ensuring national security, minimizing risks, and responsibly integrating these technologies,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks, who administered the organization of the task force.

“The future of defense is not just about adopting cutting-edge technologies, but doing so with foresight, responsibility, and a deep understanding of the broader implications for our nation,” Hicks, a three-time Wash100 Award winner, added.

  1. NSA-backed AI security effort

In order to ensure the upholding of risk-averse, secure AI practices, DOD component the National Security Agency in late September unveiled the AI Security Center. The hub will streamline and centralize the agency’s already ongoing AI security activities and issue guidelines and evaluation materials so that AI can be properly instituted in national security-focused organizations and the private companies that serve them. Like Task Force Lima, it will be a partnering initiative with the IC, as well as national laboratories and academic institutions.

“We must build a robust understanding of AI vulnerabilities foreign intelligence threats to these AI systems and ways to encounter the threat in order to have AI security,” commented NSA Director, Army General and commander of U.S. Cyber Command Paul Nakasone.

“We must also ensure that malicious foreign actors can’t steal America’s innovative AI capabilities to do so,” he emphasized. Nakasone is a fellow Wash100 awardee.

  1. AI ‘battle labs’

In late September, it was announced that the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command are working with the CDAO’s Algorithmic Warfare Directorate and the Defense Innovation Unit to operationalize a pair of BRAVO AI Battle Labs. These labs will serve to collect data and intelligence such as logistics, cyber and telemetry at the ‘edge’ and share it with the DOD. In conjunction, the labs will host U.S. governmentwide BRAVO Hackathons to invite competitive data integration and prototype new technologies.

The labs are seen as a way to utilize AI’s immense potential for data processing and leverage it for decision advantage.

If you’re interested in AI — who isn’t these days! — and its vast applications in federal agencies, there will be robust discussion from many different perspectives occurring at next year’s edition of Potomac Officers Club’s annual AI Summit. It’s right around the corner, so save your spot today.

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