Our most critical mission: Adopting AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a complex, rapidly growing technology. In a recent FedScoop panel Brett Vaughn, Navy Chief AI Officer, and Willie Hicks, Federal CTO for Dynatrace discuss this up-and-coming technology including:

  • Their definition of AI
  • How AI is used in the Navy
  • How to adopt AI quickly and efficiently to keep up in the “AI arms race”

How do you define AI?

When asked how he defines AI, Vaughn made it clear it’s not a simple concept, stating the technology is “near the realm of science fiction.” To have the most accurate understanding of AI, the Navy follows three basic mental models:

  • The Oxford Dictionary definition of AI: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
  • The Navy puts AI in a constellation-like order, wherein each group connects to the other to create the overarching General AI. Those individual groups are; Rule-Based Automation, Intelligent Automation, Cognitive Analytics, and Narrow AI.
  • The Carnegie Melon AI Stack, which acts as a sort of blueprint for AI development.

Hicks seconds Vaughn’s notions, adding his perspective from the industry standpoint, “For us, it’s really, about solving problems. Very complex problems.” The problems he refers to are nothing new to the industry, but as technology advances, AI can assist human operators to propel the entire mission forward.

How is AI being used in the Navy?

With massive technological environments, such as Navy ships and submarines, system complexity is continually growing. The Navy’s goal is to leverage and maximize the potential of AI by focusing on three objectives:

  • Reduce toil: Use Intelligent Automation to relieve the burden of repetitive back-office tasks
  • Autonomy in system: Develop and deploy AI for ease in mission sense, as well as simple locomotion and navigation of the vehicle
  • Decision aid: Leverage human operators to do what they do best, and use machines to help be more effective

How will you keep up in the AI arms race?

On March 1, 2021, the National Security Commission (NSC) released its AI report was released, which refers to the ‘AI arms race’ –  an international race to harness AI. The Navy has had a dedicated center for AI that has been operating for over 40 years. The race to adopt AI technology has been long underway, and to prevent the U.S. from losing the lead, now is the time to act. The NSC has put out the goal of an AI-enabled Defense Department by 2025.

With the adversary so close on our heels, it is a call to action, “It is our (industry’s) duty to assist the federal government in this most critical mission,” says Hicks. “As our military moves forward with AI adoption, it is our mission to aid in any way possible.” Watch the webinar “Modernizing Government Mission with AI” on-demand here.

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