The AI industry has technology that can scan a massive amount of image data in a jiffy with pinpoint accuracy. The Pentagon is desperate to get its hands on such expertise and considers it important for raising the potency of its armed forces.
Vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson has expressed his keenness on leveraging all the advances happening in AI.
Military intelligence agencies are looking towards employing artificial intelligence into fields like Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, and data mining. But there are not enough AI resources to satisfy the current demand. Human analysts are besieged by the huge scale of data derived from aerial images, and AI can do a better job than humans in most of these jobs.
Talking at the New America conference, Wilson pointed out that a trained Intel analyst can get it right 75 percent of the time, while average computers can do a thousand pictures every minute and that too with 99 percent accuracy. He added that it is all about allowing computers to do what computers they are good at, and let humans do what they are good at.
AI is not about weaponizing
The Pentagon has asked for assistance from giants like Google in keeping its military ready for the AI revolution. As part of Project Maven, the Defense Department and the Air Force are looking at developing AI algorithms to study drones’ live video stream. Alphabet board member and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt chairs the Defense Innovation Board. There has been an increased awareness within the Pentagon of what AI can do. On the other hand, thousands of Google employees have signed a letter asking CEO Sundar Pichai to end the partnership with the Pentagon, as “Google should not be in the business of war.”
However, Wilson defended Project Maven and assured that it is a vital research effort and it just about automating routine tasks and has nothing to do with weaponizing.
Wilson expressed that the military doesn’t want to lag behind China which continues to invest billions of dollars in the application of AI.
Getting all AI defense projects under one umbrella
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the Pentagon wants to bring the numerous disorganized AI military projects into a central program office. Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin has been picked to carry out this reorganization.
Griffin announced recently that he will supervise a “Joint Artificial Intelligence Office” and probably come up with something similar for hypersonics.
Satisfying the need for quality data
To this point, most of military-related AI research has been carried out by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) organization known as the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental.
DIUX and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) started a competition in which participating companies were offered government satellite imagery to carry out research on machine learning.
According to DIUX officials, this was one of the biggest openly accessible datasets of aerial images.
AI companies have hailed this effort, as they need quality data to develop algorithms that are convincing.
Brady Cline, VP of defense and intelligence at SpaceKnow said government offering such data at no cost is “huge”.