A lead official for the Pentagon’s artificial intelligence center offered details Wednesday on the new office’s initial mission to operationalize new capabilities to assist with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Brendan McCord, chief architect of the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), told attendees at a Nvidia [NVDA] conference the new office’s work will run through “National Mission Initiatives” to implement the latest object recognition and big data capabilities, beginning with a focus on personnel recovery and unmanned infrastructure assessments.

Brendan McCord, chief architect for the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center
Brendan McCord, chief architect for the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center

“We are launching a National Mission Initiative in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Our goal is to save lives. To meet this goal will require new designs for combining the efforts of industry, academia and government,” McCord said.

DoD CIO Dana Deasy oversees JAIC, which was established in June, and has offered scant details on its mission scope outside of a goal to speed up the development and scalability of critical AI capabilities.

McCord said JAIC will host an artificial intelligence industry day on Nov. 28 focused on AI prototyping opportunities.

JAIC has also asked the Defense Innovation Board to lead the effort in establishing ethical guidelines for practical AI use with a goal of producing a set a principles over the nine months, according to McCord.

The office’s National Mission Initiatives will focus on bringing together partners from industry and academia to build on AI support capabilities, an example of which came together during the recent Hurricane Florence.

“When Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas last month, a Joint AI Center team mobilized and on order, because DoD is a supporting element here to these operations, we worked with representatives from some of the National Guard bureau, FEMA, CBP and the Coast Guard to execute our first ever operational prototype that applies AI to disaster operation,” McCord said.

The Florence team made use of tools developed out of the Defense Innovation Unit, DoD’s experimental technology office.

JAIC officials used DIU’s xView, an object detection dataset to assist emergency response personnel in their rescue efforts.

“It’s one of the largest and most diverse datasets for object detection and overhead imagery ever created,” McCord said.