Eric Schmidt, the former Chief Executive Officer of Google and Alphabet, has become a high-stakes advisor to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and liaison between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon since before he left the post. Now, he continues to advise the military-industrial complex on the importance of digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI) in government systems, delivering a keynote address at the 2022 Air Force Association Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. In his speech, Schmidt offered blunt criticisms and urgent recommendations to the DoD to break through the bureaucracy that is limiting digital innovation and hindering its security, among other topics.
To encourage his audience, Schmidt praised the innovation of the B21 Raider project and the Rapid Capabilities Office, in general, but noted that the same ingenuity needs to expand throughout the Pentagon and other government IT infrastructures. He also paid particular attention to AI and its potential to be a “force multiplier” for the U.S. military in the near future.
Schmidt also said he understands the difficulty of persuading government and military leaders to address the dire importance of a cutting-edge approach to AI and modern technology needs. He previously served as chair of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board in 2016 and the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (with Robert O. Work) from 2019-2021.