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CFR’s Michael Horowitz, Lauren Kahn: CDAO Office to Help Accelerate Pentagon’s AI Adoption

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Council on Foreign Relations fellows Michael Horowitz and Lauren Kahn said the Department of Defense’s move to advance the integration of data and artificial intelligence through the creation of the office of the chief digital and AI officer reflects the elevation of AI’s importance in national defense.

“From this point on, a more cohesive approach to AI and data through the CDAO is more likely to accelerate AI adoption throughout the U.S. military because it links DoD’s AI efforts with data, the fuel AI requires,” Horowitz and Kahn wrote in a blog post published Friday.

They said CDAO needs to do two things to address the Pentagon’s siloed data and improve the quality of data used for training algorithms and the first is building close relationships with military branches and combatant commands.

Another step is coordinating with the Defense Innovation Unit and other research and development organizations at DOD to advance AI experimentation and research initiatives.

David Spirk, the departing chief data officer at the Pentagon and a previous Wash100 Award winner, said CDAO will serve as the successor organization to the department’s Joint AI Center.

“Moving forward, however, bringing the JAIC into the CDAO will create a more integrated approach to AI and data that is likely to help the United States achieve defense AI leadership,” Kahn and Horowitz wrote.

Horowitz is senior fellow for defense technology and innovation at CFR, while Kahn is a research fellow at the council.