* The National Defense Industrial Association recently tapped Shane Shaneman, the strategic director of national security and defense at Carnegie Mellon University, to be its new senior fellow for artificial intelligence. He spoke with National Defense to discuss his thoughts on AI and his goals as senior fellow. Shaneman's views are his and not necessarily the views of Carnegie Mellon. This interview has been edited for length, brevity and clarity.
How and when did you start working on artificial intelligence technologies?
It really started when I transitioned from the Air Force Research Lab into Carnegie Mellon back in the summer of 2016. ... The role that I was playing for the Air Force Research Lab was basically helping to connect some of their research within cross-domain solutions to the operational community and the combatant commands.
Later, I learned more about the opportunity with Carnegie Mellon and, given the pace of innovation that was occurring with machine learning and artificial intelligence, I saw the immediate linkage that is going to be needed to be able to turn around and leverage those technologies, to both enhance our national security as well as to maintain our technological superiority.
Since you joined Carnegie Mellon, how have you seen AI transform?
It's been fairly tremendous. ... With some of the current advances that have taken place in parallelization, machine learning is now 100 times faster than it was just two years ago. And you've seen continued evolutions of both the algorithms and the framework and also new styles of machine learning. Of course, going from both the traditional supervised learning into new areas of both unsupervised as well as reinforcement learning.
At Carnegie Mellon, what does your portfolio look like?
My current focus is basically to help link up researchers with requirements across national security and defense and to maximize the value and impact that they have for the United States.
As it relates to defense and national security, what is the promise of AI?
One of the first and key areas that we're focused on is how it can augment the warfighters. ... If you look at tasks that require very tremendous and tedious focus and involvement from human operators, the ability to ... use machine learning and AI as a means to turn around and automate some of those functions and provide additional insights to the warfighter to aid decision making, or to enable them to actually shift what they're...