Military Embedded Systems

DoD AI chief cites progress on agency's artificial-intelligence capabilities


September 05, 2019

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

DoD AI chief cites progress on agency's artificial-intelligence capabilities

ARLINGTON, Va. Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), said in a recent press conference that he is "optimistic that 2020 will be a breakout year for the department when it comes to fielding A.I.-enabled capabilities," according to a DoD transcript.

Ongoing projects for the artificial intelligence (AI) push, Shanahan told attendees, include predictive maintenance for the H-60 helicopter; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with an initial emphasis on wildfires and flooding; cyber sense-making, focusing on event detection, user activity monitoring, and network mapping; information operations; and intelligent business automation.

The biggest project for fiscal year 2020, he said, is what the Pentagon is calling AI for maneuver and fires: "With individual lines of effort or product lines oriented on warfighting operations; for example, operations intelligence fusion, joint all-domain command and control, accelerated sensor-to-shooter timelines, autonomous and swarming systems, target development, and operations center workflows.

"We are also embarking with DIU [Defense Innovation Unit] and the services’ Surgeons General, as well as many others, on a predictive health project," Shanahan stated, "with several proposed lines of effort, to include health records analysis, medical imagery classification and PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] mitigation/suicide prevention. Our other major effort, one that is instrumental to our AI center of excellence concept, is what we are calling the Joint Common Foundation, or JCF.  The JCF will be a platform that will provide access to data, tools, environments, libraries and to other certified platforms to enable software and AI engineers to rapidly develop, evaluate, test and deploy AI-enabled solutions to warfighters. It is designed to lower the barriers of entry, democratize access to data, eliminate duplicative efforts, and increase value added for the department.  This platform will reside on top of an enterprise cloud infrastructure."

Shanahan emphasized that the DoD believes that AI's most valuable contributions will stem from how AI is used to make better and faster decisions; he said that this aspect includes gaining a deeper understanding of how to optimize human-machine teaming and stated JAIC's goal of using AI to increase operational effectiveness, accelerate integration with autonomous systems, and enhance efficiency across the department.


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