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Lloyd Austin: AI Included in DOD’s Top Tech Modernization Priorities

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has included artificial intelligence on its list of priority technology modernization initiatives under DOD’s $112 billion research, development, testing and evaluation budget request, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s Global Emerging Technology Summit.

Austin, 2021 Wash100 Award recipient, told the event audience that AI could be a vital tool for the four joint warfighting concept areas he has approved. The concepts are joint fires, joint all domain command and control, contested logistics and information advantage.

“We believe that we can responsibly use AI as a force multiplier … one that helps us to make decisions faster and more rigorously, to integrate across all domains,” he said.

The defense secretary noted DOD has more than 600 ongoing programs involving emerging technologies such as Project Salus, which aims to examine patterns and predict supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Pathfinder project, which focuses on the development of an algorithm to detect airborne threats.

More than 60 programs backed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seek to incorporate AI in various operations such as cyber vulnerability detection and mitigation, according to Austin.

He added that the department will invest $1.5 billion in the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) over the next five years and should explore new approaches to manage its talent.

“We’re going to have to do a lot better at recruiting, training, and retaining the talented people—which are often young people—people who can lead the department into and through the AI revolution.”

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