On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention. The combination of a computer, cell phone, camera, and iPod with a touchscreen interface has since changed society forever. A much less talked about feat of 2007 occurred when computer scientists from the University of Alberta utilized artificial intelligence to build a learning algorithm named Chinook that mastered checkers. The software analyzed successful and unsuccessful checkers moves, eventually becoming unbeatable (Manjoo, 2007). The event was a huge breakthrough for artificial intelligence, a technology with the ability to alter our futures in the same way that the iPhone did.
How do a game of checkers and the iPhone apply to a government CFO? They both make moves guided by strategy, assumptions, and environment with the end goal of dominating their opponents. These concepts draw parallels to the challenges faced by the Department of Defense today, as the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) calls upon the U.S. to make strategic decisions based on assumptions and the current geopolitical environment. As government CFOs, our challenge is to provide leadership the decision support to facilitate the NDS and keep the U.S. ahead of near-peer adversaries. To deliver on that charge, we must invest in new and emerging technologies and develop a workforce capable of thriving in the inevitable culture change. This essay explores artificial intelligence (Al) and data virtualization, two emerging technologies that, with the proper level of oversight and dedication from servicemembers at all levels, could transform the way the government conducts business.
In today's comptroller squadron, the systems we employ require immense transactional focus and take away from our ability to be true analysts. While we have stayed afloat with this mindset, the likelihood of human error has increased over time and an environment that stifles strategic thinking and innovation has emerged. Consequently, we re-create reports that do not truly support decision making, we spend time battling our own systems, and we struggle to share ' data across the enterprise. As CFO's, it is incumbent upon us to think about how we can remain efficient while developing strategic thinkers at all levels, and artificial intelligence is an answer worth exploring.
At its core, Al is the idea that you can build a machine (computer) capable of thinking like a human. The concept is not new, but the speed and accessibility of the technology has improved, especially now that it is available for...