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Pentagon aims to spread artificial intelligence across military services - Roll Call

Published: January 17, 2021
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Source: roll call

New contract procedures to make it easier for small companies to bid on AI uses for the military
The Pentagon is trying, through new contract rules, to spread artificial intelligence technologies faster throughout the services. This is the PowerEgg X autonomous personal AI camera, for civilian use, which can be configured as a drone to fly through rain and obey AI commands sent from the launcher. (AFP via Getty Images)
The Pentagon is trying, through new contract rules, to spread artificial intelligence technologies faster throughout the services. This is the PowerEgg X autonomous personal AI camera, for civilian use, which can be configured as a drone to fly through rain and obey AI commands sent from the launcher. (AFP via Getty Images)

After spending the past few years demonstrating how artificial intelligence tools can boost U.S. military efforts, the office responsible for overseeing such programs at the Defense Department is shifting its focus to helping military services and agencies figure out how to incorporate the technologies in their systems. 

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, who became director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in October, said the small office can be more effective in seeding artificial intelligence technologies across the department by being a “catalyst for success for others” rather than developing those tools by itself. 

“What we're trying to do is generate scale across the department to transform the department in three primary ways: transform the warfighting aspects of the department, transform the support enterprises in the department ... and then transform the business practices,” Groen said in an interview. 

Groen is the second director of the center that goes by the acronym JAIC, or “the jake” in Pentagon parlance, which was set up in 2018 by Congress. Its first director was Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, who retired last year. 

For fiscal 2021, the Pentagon sought a total of $841 million for artificial intelligence efforts across the department, of which JAIC’s request was $290.7 million. 

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