Pentagon Struggling to Take Advantage of Artificial Intelligence


The Pentagon sees artificial intelligence and related technologies as key enablers of future military operations. But the Defense Department faces challenges as it seeks to acquire them.

U.S. military officials envision a wide variety of potential applications for AI including intelligence analysis and exploitation, targeting, cyber warfare, missile defense and autonomous platforms.

“All of the services are actually quite engaged in a campaign to understand where advanced artificial intelligence and autonomy can be inserted … to help defeat adversaries across the spectrum of potential conflicts that we might find ourselves in,” Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“It is very compelling, when one looks at the capabilities that artificial intelligence can bring to the speed and accuracy of command and control and the capabilities that advanced robotics might bring to a complex battle space,” he added.

In April, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work established an algorithmic warfare cross-functional team at the Pentagon to advance these efforts.

“Although we have taken steps to explore the potential of artificial intelligence, big data and deep learning, I remain convinced that we need to do much more, and move much faster, across DoD to take advantage of recent and future advances in these critical areas,” he said in a memo outlining the initiative.

The Defense Department is still exploring how best to acquire artificial intelligence tools, Marine Col. Drew Cukor, the chief of the algorithmic warfare team, said at a recent military technology conference in Washington, D.C.

“I wish we could buy AI like we buy lettuce at Safeway where we can walk in and swipe a credit card and we can walk out with our head of lettuce,” he said. “This is not easy to do. There is no black box that delivers you the AI system that the government needs, at least not now. Maybe in a few years we will be there but there are key elements that have to be put together.”

Read the source article in National Defense Magazine.