JUST IN: Pentagon Endorses AI Commission’s Recommendations

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

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The head of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center said the office supports recommendations outlined by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which called for sweeping changes to ensure the United States is “AI-ready” by 2025.

The report offers readers “a deep understanding and a deep analysis of down to first principles, bare metal for what it takes for AI integration and preserving our military effectiveness,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, JAIC director. “What they produced is critically important and critically important for us in the department, but it's also critically important for our national competitiveness.”

The National Security Commission on AI — which was established under the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to examine ways to advance the development of AI for national security and defense purposes — released its final report to Congress in early March after two years of work.

The sprawling 700-plus page report includes recommendations to the Biden administration and Congress that will require new approaches to better posture the nation for competition with other AI-enabled nations, such as China and Russia.

Groen called the commission’s report a “760-page to-do list” during a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon April 9. “I can't think of any [recommendations] that we don't agree with.”

The report said the United States will need to make major investments in research and development to spur domestic AI innovation. It called for $32 billion in spending per year by 2026.

Of the many recommendations that commissioners put forth, about 100 of them are military-specific and will be led by defense agencies, he noted.

“As we look at that list, a good number of them — about half, maybe a little bit more — we're already moving out [to] a significant degree,” Groen said. “In those cases, it's really just a matter for us of taking a look at the NSCAI recommendations in detail, to make sure that we've considered the full scope of what might appear in one of those recommendations and then see if what we're doing today aligns with those.”

The recommendations that are the most pressing and most closely align with what the center is already doing include the need to create an “enterprise of capabilities,” he said. Additionally, Groen said he also supported ethical considerations the report put forth.

“We are all about fleshing out our ethical foundations and really, really integrating that into every aspect of our process,” he said.

He also praised recommendations that would bolster workforce development, he said.

There is a subset of recommendations that the center has looked at but does not yet have a plan for, he said. With those, “we recognize that it's a problem, but we're not quite ready to move out in that direction just because of limited bandwidth here,” Groen said.

There are some recommendations that the JAIC will have to take a hard look at before moving forward, he noted. “There are things that we hadn't thought about before, and we really need to kind of pull the strings on the implications of those,” he said.

Groen noted that some of the suggestions — given their large scale and scope — supersede what just the AI community and the Defense Department does. The JAIC will plan to work closely with several Pentagon offices including research and engineering, personnel and readiness, and acquisition and sustainment on the efforts.

Implementing the report’s recommendations will be critically important as the United States faces steep competition with China for AI supremacy, said Robert Work, vice chair of the commission and a former deputy secretary of defense under the Obama administration.

“For the first time since World War II, the United States technical predominance — which undergirds both our economic and our military competitiveness — is under severe threat by the People's Republic of China,” he said at the briefing. “We have got to take this competition seriously and we need to win it.”

The United States is not properly organized to win the competition with Beijing, he noted. By 2025, the Defense Department and federal government must have the foundations in place for widespread integration of AI.

Commission Chairman Eric Schmidt, the former head of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has previously said that China is rapidly catching up to the United States in AI, noting that the nation is only a year or two ahead of Beijing.


Topics: Robotics, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Cyber

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