Joint AI Center Linking Services, Industry.

Author:Tadjdeh, Yasmin
Position:Algorithmic Warfare

While still in its infancy, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is already making waves throughout the Pentagon.

The center--which is nestled under the Defense Department's office of the chief information officer--is meant to coalesce the many disparate AI and machine learning projects that are active across the department.

There are "too many pilots, too many prototypes, too many research-and-engineering efforts that are just not getting out into operational" use, said Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan, director of the center.

Previous efforts weren't resulting in enduring capabilities and were "true bespoke solutions," he said during remarks at a recent industry conference hosted by AFCEA International.

"You weren't cross-pollinating from program to program," he said. "It was staying in research and development."

The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center--which was stood up last summer and became fully operational in November--is meant to scale AI's impact across the military. It is also envisioned as a way to help new AI technology get over the dreaded "Valley of Death," Shanahan said.

In the unclassified summary of its artificial intelligence strategy that was released in February, the Pentagon said JAIC is the focal point of its ambitions, he noted.

Shanahan--who previously led the Defense Department's AI pathfinder effort Project Maven--said the rate of advancement in AI technology is exponential.

"It's a pace of change that the department has not experienced for as long as I've been in uniform, which is 35 years," he said. "This does feel different."

The military is working to further accelerate development, he said. The center classifies projects under two categories: national mission initiatives and component mission initiatives. National mission initiatives are driven by the JAIC and component mission initiatives are led by the services, combatant commands and defense agencies.

One technology area that the center is pursuing is perception, which is similar to the work that has been done with Project Maven, Shanahan said. That effort is focused on analyzing the massive amount of video footage collected by drones.

"Having come from Project Maven I'm very comfortable with the relationship between Maven and JAIC and we're helping each other," he said. "We have to take some of [the technology developed in Maven and]... get it into a product foundation so other people can take advantage of the training data, the...

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