The Pentagon on Tuesday released its first artificial intelligence strategy that pushes the services to adopt capabilities in the near-term and scale up tools to specific projects with the assistance of its new joint AI center.
The new strategy focuses on bolstering AI technology development to stay ahead of peer competitors, such as China and Russia, and utilizing the new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to get after immediate AI projects.
“AI is poised to change the character of the future battlefield and the pace of threats faced in today’s security environment. The United States, together with its allies and partners, must adopt AI to maintain its strategic position and prevail on future battlefields,” officials wrote in a statement on the new strategy.
DoD has faced scrutiny over its approach to AI in recent years, specifically its consideration for ethical guidelines. The Pentagon’s flagship AI program, Project Maven, received pushback from Google [GOOG] employees over the use of its technology for warfighting purposes, and the company ultimately withdrew its bid for follow-on work.
Officials in the new document wrote the strategy will direct the use of AI in a “human-centered manner,” addressing a previous concern that military branches may turn over whole weapon systems to machine learning algorithms.
“The Department will articulate its vision and guiding principles for using AI in a lawful and ethical manner to promote our values,” officials wrote. “We will consult with leaders from across academia, private industry, and the international community to advance AI ethics and safety in the military context.”
The new JAIC, led by Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, will take the lead for enacting the strategy’s vision for near-term AI adoption, and coordinating development efforts with the services and industry.
“JAIC will work with teams across DoD to identify, prioritize, and select new AI mission initiatives systematically, and then execute an initial sequence of cross-functional use cases that demonstrate value and spur momentum,” officials wrote.
The office will focus on these National Mission Initiatives, as well as command-specific Component Mission Initiatives, through a series of prototype programs with industry, according to the strategy.
“The JAIC will use lessons learned from these initial pilots to establish new processes and systems that will be repeatable across additional projects,” officials wrote.
DARPA is tasked with future research and development and longer-term AI projects.
DoD’s new strategy follows a new executive order the president signed Monday launching the first national AI initiative aimed at keeping the U.S. competitive in the space alongside countries such as China and Russia (Defense Daily, Feb. 11).
“Other nations, particularly China and Russia, are making significant investments in AI for military purposes, including in applications that raise questions regarding international norms and human rights. These investments threaten to erode our technological and operational advantages and destabilize the free and open international order,” officials wrote in the Pentagon’s strategy. “The United States, together with its allies and partners, must adopt AI to maintain its strategic position, prevail on future battlefields, and safeguard this order.”