* Academic institutions will be critical to sustaining the United States' overmatch in artificial intelligence technology, experts say.
While countries around the world are investing big in AI, the United States' advantage is in its talent pipeline and universities, said Dana Deasy, the Defense Department's chief information officer.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we continue to have the most exquisite capability in terms of people, academic talent [and] startups as a nation," he told reporters during a recent meeting in Washington, D.C.
While experts can run stats and figures that compare the amount of money adversarial nations are investing in AI to the United States, Washington still has the upper hand, he added.
"We're going to continue to have to have the best academic environment in the world," Deasy said. "It all starts there. You can look at any great set of technology that's come out of the U.S. that's ended up being used and you could find its roots first by somebody who came out of some academic environment [and] then went into either a startup role or some technology firm."
The Defense Department is then able to leverage the innovation occurring in colleges and universities across the country and apply it to its own weapon systems, he said. Artificial intelligence is a key focus area.
"AI at some point will become part of the fabric of how we build solutions from the lethality standpoint, how we'll think about deterrence," he said.
But with each passing day, foreign nations are becoming more competitive as they build their own AI arsenals, Deasy noted.
Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said that in order for the United States to maintain dominance in artificial intelligence, there must be a focus on education.
"If we are looking at the long-term trajectory of rivalry with China, talent will really be the critical determinant of comparative advantage going forward," she said during a panel discussion hosted by CNAS.
"On one hand, I'm very heartened that the Department of Defense has launched a great strategy for AI," she said, referencing an overarching Pentagon strategy for artificial intelligence that was released earlier this year. "On the other hand, I wish the Department of Education were equally active in thinking about ways to both enhance STEM education and to leverage AI to augment existing educational opportunities."