On February 12, 2019 the Department of Defense released a summary and supplementary fact sheet of its artificial intelligence strategy (“AI Strategy”). The AI Strategy has been a couple of years in the making as the Trump administration has scrutinized the relative investments and advancements in artificial intelligence by the United States, its allies and partners, and potential strategic competitors such as China and Russia. The animating concern was articulated in the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy (“NDS”): strategic competitors such as China and Russia has made investments in technological modernization, including artificial intelligence, and conventional military capability that is eroding U.S. military advantage and changing how we think about conventional deterrence. As the NDS states, “[t]he reemergence of long-term strategic competition, rapid dispersion of technologies” such as “advanced computing, “big data” analytics, artificial intelligence” and others will be necessary to “ensure we will be able to fight and win the wars of the future.”

The AI Strategy offers that “[t]he United States, together with its allies and partners, must adopt AI to maintain its strategic position, prevail on future battlefields, and safeguard [a free and open international] order. We will also seek to develop and use AI technologies in ways that advance security, peace, and stability in the long run. We will lead in the responsible use and development of AI by articulating our vision and guiding principles for using AI in a lawful and ethical manner.”

DoD will implement the AI Strategy through five main lines of effort:

  • Delivering AI-enabled capabilities that address key missions
  • Scaling AI’s impact across DOD through a common foundation that enables decentralized development and experimentation
  • Cultivating a leading AI workforce
  • Engaging with commercial, academic, and international allies and partners
  • Leading in military ethics and AI safety

The AI Strategy emphasizes that “[f]ailure to adopt AI will result in legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our people, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living, and growing challenges to societies that have been built upon individual freedoms.”

The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (“JAIC”), which was established in June 2018, is led by Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan and reports to the DoD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.  It is designated as the principal implementer and integrator of the AI Strategy. Specifically, the JAIC will coordinate activities that align with DoD’s strategic approach, such as: (1) rapidly delivering AI-enabled capabilities; (2) establishing a common foundation for scaling AI’s impact across DoD; (3) facilitating AI planning, policy, governance, ethics, safety, cybersecurity, and multilateral coordination; and (4) attracting and cultivating world-class personnel.

The AI Strategy makes clear that DoD recognizes that “[t]he present moment is pivotal: we must act to protect our security and advance our competiveness, seizing the initiative to lead the world in the development and adoption of transformative defense AI solutions that are safe, ethical, and secure. JAIC will spearhead this effort, engaging with the best minds in government, the private sector, academia, and international community. The speed and scale of the change required are daunting, but we must embrace change if we are to reap the benefits of continued security and prosperity for the future.” Accordingly, Lt. Gen. Shanahan and Dana Deasy, speaking to a group of reporters, highlighted that DoD has recently invested $90 million in AI-related research and technology development, and that DoD will request additional resources for the JAIC in its fiscal year 2020 budget request in order to support its execution of the AI Strategy.

The DoD strategy comes on the heels of President Trump’s Executive Order (“EO”), “Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence,” that launches a coordinated federal government strategy for artificial intelligence. The EO directs federal departments and agencies to invest the resources necessary to drive technological breakthroughs in AI (and outpace China’s developments in this area), lead the develop of global technical standards, address workforce issues as industries adopt AI, foster trust in AI technologies, and promote U.S. research and innovation with allies and partners.

 

* This article was originally posted on Covington’s Global Policy Watch blog.

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Photo of Samantha Clark Samantha Clark

Samantha Clark practices in the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group as well as the CFIUS and Government Contracts groups. Ms. Clark provides advisory and advocacy support to clients facing policy, political, and regulatory challenges in the aerospace, defense, and national security sector.

Before…

Samantha Clark practices in the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group as well as the CFIUS and Government Contracts groups. Ms. Clark provides advisory and advocacy support to clients facing policy, political, and regulatory challenges in the aerospace, defense, and national security sector.

Before joining the firm, Ms. Clark served in a number of senior staff positions on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, most recently as Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel. In this role, she managed the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense policy bill that authorizes the Defense Department’s budget. Ms. Clark worked on Chairman McCain’s legislative priorities to modernize the military retirement system and reform the defense acquisition system and served as an investigative counsel for the committee’s inquiry into cyber intrusions affecting U.S. Transportation Command contractors. During her time on the committee, she managed a multi-billion dollar policy portfolio that covered acquisition law and policy, national security law and policy, military, civilian, and acquisition workforce policy, congressional investigations, military end strength authorizations, military pay and compensation, law of war and detainee issues, and women in combat.

The Secretary of the Navy awarded Ms. Clark the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award for her “exceptional service to the Department of the Navy as Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Armed Services Committee,” and the Department of the Air Force awarded Ms. Clark her second Distinguished Public Service Award for her work leading specific legislative initiatives to modernize acquisition authorities and reform the military and civilian personnel systems in support of the Air Force during her tenure on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Photo of Jeff Bozman Jeff Bozman

Jeff Bozman practices with the Public Policy & Government Affairs and Government Contracts practice groups in Washington, DC.  He focuses on the defense and aerospace industry, and on the labor and employment laws that apply to government contractors.