JAIC To Evangelize AI Across DoD
The Pentagon’s two-year-old Joint Artificial Intelligence Center can’t build all the AI the military needs by itself, its director says. But it can build cloud-based tools for the rest of the Defense Department to use and it can send out human missionaries to evangelize the gospel of AI, Lt. Gen. Michael Groen said today.
JAIC is reorganizing its Mission Directorate to form “fly-away teams” that can go out to military commands, defense agencies, and other organizations to teach them how to enter the age of AI. The teams “can fall in on … a potential AI customer [to] help them understand their data environment, help them understand what kind of things that they’re going to have to do to create an environment that can support an artificial intelligence set of solutions,” Groen told reporters this afternoon.
“The flyaway teams are looking to seek out problems throughout the DoD
that can be solved through AI,” a JAIC spokesman, Lt. Cdr. Arlo Abrahamson, elaborated in an email exchange with Breaking Defense. “The flyaway teams will be focused on services, COCOMs [combatant commands], and those DoD enterprises where people have use cases, but don’t necessarily know where to start. We will have diverse skill sets of people from the JAIC on these teams to include technical experts, policy professionals, infrastructure, and uniformed military personnel. As with many of our enablement efforts, the Joint Common Foundation will be a centerpiece.”
JAIC is rolling out an early version of that Joint Common Foundation next year. JCF is a set of cloud-based tools to help organizations across the Defense Department organize their data and develop their own AIs. And once an organization has gotten itself “AI-ready,” Groen went on, JAIC can help them find a suitable contractor and contract vehicles to develop the actual AI.
But to be successful, AI has to break out of the geek ghetto and be embraced, appreciated, and understood by senior commanders and officials. “We want to help defense leaders see that AI is about generating essential warfighting advantages,” Groen said. “It’s not a black box that a contractor is going to deliver to you. It’s not some digital gadget that an IT rep will show you how to log into… It’s commander’s business at every level, and in every defense enterprise. How do you make the system [or] warfighting decisions? What data drives your decision-making?”
There are leaders across the Defense Department who already get this, Groen said, and JAIC is working with them to advance the state of the art of military AI. But JAIC also has to raise the AI game of other organizations that don’t know how to play yet.
“There’s a balance here that we’re that we’re trying to achieve,” Groen said. “On the one hand, we’re working on very cutting-edge AI technologies, with … some pretty mature consumers, consumers who are working at the same level we are… The other side of the coin, we have we have partnerships with really important enterprises and organizations who haven’t even really started their journey into AI.”