DoD Sorting Funding, Creating Outposts for JAIC

(Photo: AFCEA)

Defense Department CIO Dana Deasy said today that DoD is currently sorting through the FY 2019 budget allocation for the new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), and likely will be creating outposts for JAIC to spur outreach to members of academia.

“We’re currently sorting through the FY19 budget for this key priority, and we recognize that this is a major importance to the Department, and there are several significant challenges we need to overcome to ensure we move this with speed and agility,” Deasy said today at an event organized by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

JAIC, which was stood up by DoD in late June, promises to speed the delivery of AI capabilities to the warfighter. Not much has been said of the structure of JAIC since that time, but today Deasy provided more detail on the location for JAIC, which will include separate remote “capabilities” to fuel outreach to academic institutions.

“Right now, it’s going to be stood up in the Pentagon, and will also be a hub and spoke model that will connect with some of the best and brightest universities across the U.S.,” Deasy said.

He revealed that DoD is already in the process of meeting with universities “to understand what kind of capabilities they have to offer” and will choose locations near key universities to serve as the spokes for the JAIC model.

“We believe we’ll probably pick three or four locations where we’ll stand up a JAIC capability, physically close to the campuses of some major universities,” he said, adding that discussions with private industry partners have also begun but remain in relatively preliminary stages.

Deasy said that keeping JAIC closely in step with the research and development at DoD “will be key to our long-term success,” and that “there’s a very tight on-going relationship with the research engineering part of [DoD Undersecretary for Research and Engineering] Dr. Griffin’s organization inside the Pentagon, specifically connected closely with DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency].”

Deasy said a case could be made that DARPA has been leading AI research dating back to the 1960s, and indicated that with such robust research ongoing, JAIC will not be a duplicative research wing and will instead primarily focus on operational prototyping and active testing of new capabilities formed in those research labs.

“JAIC represents the place where we can bring those tools and ideas in, test them, vet them, and help shape the direction for its future,” Deasy said. “This is truly a closed-loop system.”

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