Pentagon Looks To Expand AI Technologies For Military Efforts

After spending the past few years demonstrating how AI tools can boost U.S. military efforts, the Pentagon is shifting its focus to helping military services and agencies figure out how to incorporate the technologies in their systems.

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In fact, the Pentagon is looking to expand artificial intelligence across its military services and agencies. A budget of $841 million has been requested to bolster its AI work for 2021.

Officials from the Joint AI Center (JAIC) are exploring development of a so-called ‘joint common fabric,’ which would consist of various AI development platforms like the U.S. Air Force’s Platform One and elements of the U.S. Army’s AI Task Force among others, as an outgrowth from the center’s own development platform, the Joint Common Foundation (JCF).

It was just in March that the JAIC hit a key milestone in the rollout of its JCF, a cloud-based platform that enables users to access Defense Department data and develop AI solutions in a secure environment. JAIC Director Lt. Gen. Michael Groen said the JCF has achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC). His remarks came during the opening keynote at the National Defense Industrial Association AI National Security Conference.

Now, the challenge is to find a way to connect the development platforms into a fabric of platforms, in order to share data readily from an army sensor into an air force system, or the reverse.

“We can still defend America and our allies without widespread AI adoption today,” the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence wrote in its recent report, “but in the future, we will almost certainly lose without it.”

Developed in 2020, the JCF is a cloud-enabled AI platform that will accelerate the development, testing, and fielding of new AI capabilities. Through the use of a common AI platform backed by “shared infrastructure resources” drawn from within the Pentagon and across the services, the JCF promises increased momentum in AI initiatives across the DoD enterprise, according to JAIC.

JAIC has started a program called Tradewind to create a “marketplace for small AI projects,” Groen said. Small tech companies lacking large financial capital can bid on the programs and deliver “small capabilities to us that we can then scale up and integrate” into large systems across the department, he said.

For a department where the time between conception of a weapon system and its production can take decades, Tradewind promises a timeline of months. On its website, JAIC says a company getting a contract award in January could deploy a prototype in March and deploy into full production by June 2021.