Defense Innovation Board Announces Ethical AI Guidelines

The Defense Innovation Board (DIB) on Oct. 31 released recommendations and principles for the ethical design, development, and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies at the Department of Defense (DoD).

“Now is the time, at this early stage of the resurgence of interest in AI, to hold serious discussions about norms of AI development and use in a military context – long before there has been an incident,” the board wrote in the report.

The guidance instructs DoD to only implement AI systems that are responsible, equitable, traceable, reliable and governable. With bias detection measures, an auditable record-keeping system, a defined domain of use, and a watchful eye for unintended harm, DIB provided suggestions to help DoD “create a culture of safety and precision.”

Looking ahead, the board drafted recommendations on how DoD can prepare for AI:

  • Formalize and ensure proper implementation of the ethical AI principles through official DoD channels to promote longevity;
  • Establish a DoD-wide AI steering committee;
  • Cultivate and grow the field of AI engineering by providing research opportunities;
  • Enhance the DoD training and workforce with AI-related programs;
  • Invest in AI security, reproducibility, and implementation research;
  • Define benchmarks for measuring the performance of AI systems;
  • Improve AI test, evaluation, verification, and validation procedures;
  • Develop a risk management strategy; and
  • Convene an annual conference on AI safety, security and robustness.

In a supporting document, DIB explains the value of ethical AI to DoD. The board says that by maintaining high ethical standards, DoD can show its commitment to democratic norms, build trust, and capitalize on collaboration with academia and the private sector.

“There is no other military in the world that has offered its approach to ethical design, development, and deployment of AI systems. In this respect, DoD is leading in this space, showing its commitments to ethics and law,” DIB writes.

DIB, established in 2016, advises the Secretary of Defense on culture, technology and operations as a part of DoD’s ecosystem of innovation units.

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