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or the U.S. Department of Defense, 2019 From flying planes to finding targets,
might be remembered as the year artificial artificial intelligence holds the promise of
intelligence got real. The Department is in making many things that the Defense Department
the process of standing up a new Joint Artificial does much easier. But getting it to that point will
Intelligence Center to unify research efforts across not be easy. The fastest innovators in AI come
its services. The Pentagon has its first-ever AI from Silicon Valley, where many programmers
strategy. And its new budget request includes $927 and scientists have deep reservations about
million for new artificial intelligence and machine partnering with Defense Department. There are
Patrick Tucker learning technologies. also practical and strategic questions. How do
Technology Editor “AI is rapidly changing a wide range of you trust what AI decision aids recommend?
Defense One businesses and industries,” reads a summary of How do you ensure that those recommendations
the strategy. “It is also poised to change the come from real data? How do you empower
character of the future battlefield and the pace o commanders to take advantage of emerging
f threats we must face.” technology and how do you train operators to
Defense officials see artificial intelligence do the same thing?
playing an ever-more-important role in everything The Department is just beginning to find
from logistics and cyber defense to — eventually answers to these questions. And as answers
— helping commander and operators on the present themselves, other questions will show
battlefield make life-or-death decisions. up as well.

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Defense officials want to he Pentagon’s new artificial-intelligence to predict forest fires, better spot network
accelerate the delivery of strategy, released on Tuesday, aims to anomalies that can indicate cyber attacks, and,
artificial-intelligence tools get AI out of research labs and into the most prominently, predictive maintenance.
from the lab to the field. hands of troops and employees across the Defense It’s an area where some smaller tech firms
But it's hard to obtain the Department. But truly transforming the Defense are already working with the Pentagon.
massive data streams that Department into an “AI First” institution will require One such firm is Uptake, run by GE alum
make AI work. help from tech companies — and the military to Ganesh Bell, which has a contract with the Defense
By Patrick Tucker rethink its approach to the massive data streams Innovation Unit to better predict and accelerate
that AI needs to work. repairs for Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The company
In a conversation with reporters on Feb. 12, is building a virtual Bradley, using data streams
Dana Deasy, chief information officer of the from sensors on real Bradleys in the field — what
Defense Department, and Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, Bell has called a learning, digital twin. “We are able
who runs its new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, to collect what the best-performing Bradley would
said the JAIC will develop AI tools and programs look like because we are able to go into many of
to assist with everything the Pentagon does. That the subsystems and pull the data,” he said. “Just
will eventually include combat operations, although from a single vehicle, we were able to pull terabytes
both said the military won’t deviate from its core of data.”
doctrine that dictates how humans are to have Bell aims to also incorporate data from external
authority over autonomous systems. sensors, and use it to digitally recreate the vehicles’
They said near-term projects include efforts operating environments.

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The Jan. 15 instruction ussian President Vladimir Putin has in the country. While the private sector in Russia
follows a year of instructed his government to create a has achieved success in image and speech
Russian efforts to better national strategy for research into and recognition, the military has been pursuing its own
unify public and private development of artificial intelligence, according AI development for a variety of weapons such as
AI research. to state media. The order follows a year of various aircraft, missiles, electronic warfare, radars and
By Samuel Bendett efforts to better coordinate Russian government, unmanned systems.
academic, and private-sector work on AI. In Mar. 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense
Delivered Jan. 17 in a list of instructions hosted a conference with the Russian Academy of
approved by Putin following a Jan. 15 meeting of Sciences aimed at gauging the state of domestic AI
the supervisory board of the Agency for Strategic development. It gathered representatives from the
Initiatives, the order sets a delivery deadline of Feb. private and public sectors, as well as international
25, TASS reported. participants. Its chief result was a draft roadmap
“The Government of the Russian Federation, that proposed steps towards national AI
with the participation of Sberbank of Russia and development, including creating a National AI
other interested organizations, should develop Center, improving education, using AI in wargames
approaches to the national strategy for the and establishing AI standards. This “roadmap” was
development of artificial intelligence and submit not an official document — rather, it served as a
appropriate proposals,” the instruction says. set of guiding principles for participants to better
This official call for the national AI strategy engage on artificial intelligence.
follows several initiatives launched in 2018 to unify In Oct. 2018, Russian private sector
national efforts in the private and public sectors groups announced that they would publish an AI
towards the development of artificial intelligence roadmap that “provides for the creation of a list of

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projects that will help identify and remove barriers out where domestic efforts should go and what
to the development of end-to-end technologies, resources they should be given. Putin’s Jan. 15
as well as predict the market demand for artificial directive changes that, though it’s unclear at this
intelligence in the country,” as state media put it. point how much the Russian government will draw
A cornerstone of the larger Digital Technologies upon the March 2018 roadmap and other previous
national program, the roadmap is slated for efforts. It’s likely that Putin’s national strategy will
Russian President
publication by mid-2019. become the overarching document spelling out
Vladamir Putin
Photo by Sergei Chirikov/ Yet the nation lacks a unifying official public-private cooperation, and a major step
Agence France-Presse document approved by the President to spell by Russia towards domestic AI.

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The document is intended he Defense Department will unveil a new in AI development by helping to fund the design
to make commander artificial intelligence strategy perhaps as of programs such as Apple’s Siri, the Department
think through the early as this week, senior defense officials is preparing for its future by trying to learn from
implications of their new told Defense One. The strategy — its first ever — will private industry — particularly “the small number
artificial-intelligence tools. emphasize the creation and tailoring of tools for of companies that do this well,” the official said.
By Patrick Tucker specific commands and service branches, “We’ve studied their path to success and we’ve
allowing them to move into AI operations sooner gleaned lessons from … those in industry who are
rather than later. on a journey to transform themselves.”
“DOD has spent the past 50 years treating
AI as a [science and technology] concern. This Safety First
strategy reflects an additional imperative, which One thing the new strategy won’t do, the
is to translate the technology into decisions and official said, is alter the military’s philosophy on
impact in operations,” said one official with direct using autonomous systems in combat. Under a
knowledge of the strategy. 2012 directive, a human operator must always be
Much like the new Joint Artificial Intelligence available to oversee and override an autonomous
Center, the future of military AI will take its cue weapon’s actions.
from Project Maven, which applied artificial Indeed, one reason the new strategy will focus
intelligence to sorting through intelligence footage. on more immediate, operational applications of
One official described Maven as “a pathfinder” AI — as opposed to more theoretical applications
but cautioned, “the strategy is much broader than in the far future — is to force operators and
one project.” commanders to think through safety and ethical
While the military has long played a key role implications as they figure out what they want

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Project Maven, the AI to do for them. “When you translate the tech are backed by enforceable mechanisms of
Pentagon's collaboration into impact in operations, you have to think more responsibility that are accountable to the public
program with Google, seriously about ethics and safety,” said the official. interest,” it reads. One Google employee involved in
seeks to develop computer Safety “is a major focus and the language [of the the company’s Project Maven protest told Defense
vision technology for
military drones. strategy] is very clear about how important we One that a list of ethical principles would be unlikely
Photo by Allied Joint Force consider these topics.” to persuade the individual that partnering with the
Command Brunssum Since then, the Pentagon has taken a number military would be a good idea.
of steps to appease Silicon Valley employees and In other words, the Department still has lots of
executives who are skeptical, or hostile to the convincing to do.
notion of, helping the military harness AI. The strategy will also focus on building what
The Department is drafting a set of ethical the official described as an AI-ready workforce.
principles and is reaching out to academia and The official pointed to the success of massive
ethicists to help. open online courses (augmented by live classroom
In Dec. 2018, a group of ethicists affiliated with instruction) and AI bootcamps such as Google’s
New York University’s AI Now Institute published Machine Learning Ninja camp as private-sector
a white paper spelling out the reservations many examples of how to quickly train people to work
programmers and technologists have with the on machine learning. “Here again we’re looking
military use of AI. “Ethical codes can only help to those companies that either succeeded in
close the AIaccountability gap if they are truly systematically transforming their workforce
built into the processes of AIdevelopment and industry,” the official said.

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Chinese artificial-intelligence f China’s leaders start hearing “I’m sorry, Xi, He reports that the Chinese Communist Party
researchers are aware of I can’t do that,” it’s probably not because the and the People’s Liberation Army are keenly
ways their work lags the country’s various artificial-intelligence projects interested in — read: pouring money into — research
United States’ — and Beijing have become sentient. It’s because Chinese into AI-based surveillance technology and lethal
is working to fix those. scientists and policymakers realize there are autonomous weapons, even though the latter “runs
By Paulina Glass obstacles to achieving the government’s ambitious counter to China’s stated goals of avoiding an AI
goal of “AI dominance” by 2030. arms race.”
That’s one contention of a new report from “China sees military AI R&D as a cheaper and
the Center for a New American Security, whose easier path to threatening America’s sources of
author, Gregory C. Allen, says Chinese scientists military power than developing Chinese equivalents
and leaders are now aware of ways their research of American systems,” Allen writes.
and development programs are lagging those of Allen also writes that China sees itself as the
the United States. Put another way, China is not U.S.’s peer in AIresearch and development and
hurtling past the United States in AIdevelopment commercial AI, and writes that the country has
— yet. For Allen also writes that Beijing is working already met its 2020 goal of reaching the “first
to remove the obstacles to that goal. echelon” of AI globally.
An adjunct senior fellow in CNAS’ China’s efforts have alarmed various
Technology and National Security Program, American tech executives, lawmakers, and Trump
Allen based his report on four trips to Chinese administration officials. Two years ago, Eric
“diplomatic, military, and private-sector” AI Schmidt, Google’s former executive chairman,
conferences, and discussions with industry predicted: “By 2020, they will have caught up. By
executives and scientists. 2025, they will be better than us. By 2030, they will

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dominate the industries.” Last year, Sen. Joni “The absence of Chinese AI companies
Ernst, R-Iowa, and Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, among the major AIframework developers and
D-Nev., introduced a bill to create a committee to open source AI software communities was
“help ensure we stay ahead of countries like China.” identified as a noteworthy weakness of China’s
Allen argues in some ways the race may not AI ecosystem in several of my conversations
be that tight. “Though most in China’s leadership with executives in China’s technology industry,”
agree that China is one of two ‘giants’ in AI, there is Allen writes.
a similarly widespread understanding that China is China is attempting to strike a balance
not strong in all areas,” he writes. between learning from, using, and moving beyond
Among its weaknesses: hardware and foreign technologies. Allen says this approach is
algorithm development, loss of talent, and low beginning to “bear fruit.” One of the areas where
technical standards. So China has established China’s development potential is matching the hype
China's military is
educational programs to train and retain top-tier is in AIsemiconductors, computer chips that are the
growing at a rapid pace
across all domains. computer scientists, and pursued more patents foundation for AIinnovation — and, he writes,
Photo by Adm. Harry — for example, in 5G cellular technology. But the China knows it.
Harris, U.S. Navy loss in innovating AI framework was particularly
striking to Allen. Patrick Tucker contributed to this report.

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New deep-learning edia and privacy advocates have devoted Dubbed, their approach uses a
methods tested on a lot of attention to facial recognition convolutional neural network, or CNN, a method
video footage groups as a means to identify, and then surveil, of deep learning that mimics, somewhat, the way
of animals could be specific individuals in public. But facial recognition human and other mammal brains make sense of
a surveillance hit. works far better on mugshots than in crowded the world around them. The brain’s cortex divides
By Patrick Tucker public spaces where lighting, camera angles, and the visual field the way a map is divided into grids.
obscuring objects can’t be controlled. And yet the Cell groups in the cortex overlap in the portion of
debate might soon be moot, thanks to Portuguese the visual field that they “see,” enabling the brain
researchers who say artificial intelligence can to track objects across the entire field, from one
detect and identify individuals without facial grid to the next. CNNs play a big role in many facial
recognition. They know, because they tested it on recognition programs, but there is less research
zebrafish and flies. applying the technique to video of moving objects.

"" demonstrating how the technology tracks zebra fish without the use of facial recognition. | Photo by ResearchGate

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Videos of 60 and 100 30dpf Rather than apply the neural network to a movements. They were above 99 percent accuracy
zebrafish in a 70cm circular face, dividing it up into regions, the researchers for both zebrafish and flies.
arena. Part of an experiment to
applied it to the collective behavior of groups of Could you apply it to humans as easily?
track and identify individuals
using deep learning. zebrafish and flies. They showed that the network They describe the technique as “species agnostic,”
Photo by could teach itself to recognize individuals by their so yes.

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An advisory board is drafting .S. defense officials have asked the Defense range of military missions,” said Paul Scharre, the
guidelines that may help Innovation Board for a set of ethical author of Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and
shape worldwide norms for principles in the use of artificial intelligence the Future of War.
military artificial intelligence in warfare. The principles are intended to guide Josh Marcuse, executive director of the
— and woo Silicon Valley to a military whose interest in AI is accelerating — Defense Innovation Board, said crafting these
defense work. witness the new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center principles will help the department “safely and
By Patrick Tucker — and to reassure potential partners in Silicon responsibly” employ new technologies. “I think it’s
Valley about how their AI products will be used. important when dealing with a field that’s emergent
Today, the primary document laying out what to think through all the ramifications,”
the military can and can’t do with AI is a 2012 he said.
doctrine that says a human being must have veto The Board, a group of Silicon Valley corporate
power over any action an autonomous system and thought leaders chaired by former Google and
might take in combat. It’s brief, just four pages, and Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt, will make the list
doesn’t touch on any of the uses of AI for decision public at its June meeting. Defense Department
support, predictive analytics, etc. where players like leaders will take them under consideration.
Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others are making Marcuse believes that the Pentagon can be a
fast strides in commercial environments. leader not just in employing AI but in establishing
“AI scientists have expressed concern about guidelines for safe use — just as the military
how DoD intends to use artificial intelligence. While pioneered safety standards for aviation. “The
the DoD has a policy on the role of autonomy in Department of Defense should lead in this area as
weapons, it currently lacks a broader policy on how we have with other technologies in the past. I want
it will use artificial intelligence across the broad to make sure the department is not just leading

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in developing AI for military purposes but also in sometimes means finding and killing humans. An
developing ethics to use AI in military purposes,” employee revolt ensued at Google. Employees
he says. resigned en masse and the company said that
The effort, in part, is a response to what they wouldn’t renew the contract.
happened with the military’s Project Maven, the Scharre, who leads the Technology and
Pentagon’s flagship AI project with Google as its National Security Program at the Center for a New
partner. The effort applied artificial intelligence American Security, said, “One of the challenges
to the vast store of video and and image footage for things like Project Maven, which uses
that the Defense Department gathers to guide AItechnology to process drone video feeds, is that
airstrikes. Defense officials emphasized some scientists expressed concern about where
A Predator B unmanned
repeatedly that the AI was intended only to cut the technology may be heading. A public set of
aircraft lands after
a mission. down the workload of human analysts. But they AI principles will help clarify DoD’s intentions
Photo by Eric Gay also acknowledged that the ultimate goal was regarding artificial intelligence.”
to help the military do what it does better, which The Maven episode represents a rare role

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The Pentagon reversal for a contractor and the Pentagon, with what many consider to be the most important
Photo by the Defense Department being more open—or technology of the 21st century.
at least consistent—in their messaging than the A common concern is data bias, or the
contractor they were paying. Defense officials occurrence of algorithmic decisions informed by
hope that having a list of principles will allow large—but not necessarily accurate—data sets.
companies that want to work with the Pentagon Consider a 2015 controversy that erupted when it
do so without having give mixed messages to was revealed that Google’s search algorithm was
public and their employees. mislabeling black people as gorillas. The private
Marcuse says a published list of ethical sector hasn’t worked out the answers to these
guidelines for the Department to follow will questions even as it’s rushed to commercialize
allay some of the suspicions many in Silicon AI. The U.S. military, says Marcuse, doesn’t
Valley have about the military’s use of AI. “If we have the luxury of deploying new tech solutions
show leadership, responsibility, show that we’re and rushing them into the field without a good
circumspect and cautious where we need to be, understanding of how they work. A massive
and rigorous in our testing and making smart data-labeling error for the military isn’t just a
tradeoff decisions, I think that will address a lot of public relations disaster, it’s a potential killer,
the concerns that partners and potential partners especially combined with highly autonomous
have raised,” he said. robotic weapons. The concerns that ethicists and
As social media companies and large tech academics have raised are good ones, he says.
players like Amazon have developed and used “We have to have questions about how
new AI offerings, and offered them for sale to these tools are used appropriately, how data
law enforcement agencies, the military, or just to is used, how data is labeled, how to ensure the
maximize their own profits, ethicists, academics, appropriate degrees of autonomy,” he says.
and observers have raised serious questions The form that the recommendations take
about how big corporate players are developing won’t be a strict list of commandments so much a

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range of recommendations informed by strategies, concepts of operation, training
scenario-based methodology: what’s the most guides, etc. “If you are the marine corps or
appropriate use of AI in one battle situation army, and you are trying to come up with
versus another? Those scenarios are informed training manuals and conops, there is a lot of
by interviews with actual commanders, said planning, thinking and training. We think the
Marcuse. “We actually ask commanders what principles would be informing those things,”
their questions are…The scenarios are designed he says
to test those questions.” The process kicks off on Jan. 23 with a
Of course, Defense Department leaders will public listening session at the Harvard Belfer
decide on their own, and behind closed doors, Center, an effort to court exactly the sort of
how to put the principles into practice. Marcuse academics and ethicists that have expressed
says it’s important for them to be able to do the most skepticism of the Defense Department’s
that away from the public eye. But, he says, the AI ambitions.
demand signal for the principles list came from “It is critical that the forthcoming [Defense
within the department — in particular, CIO Dana Innovation Board] recommendation to DoD is
Deasy. And It had the “full and enthusiastic” consistent with an ethics-first approach and
support of former Defense Secretary James upholds existing legal norms around warfare and
Mattis, said Marcuse. human rights, while continuing to carry out the
And they aren’t intended for a single Department’s enduring mission to keep the peace
The Defense Innovation user or audience within the military. Once and deter war. DIB members will collect and
Board they’re published, the hope is that combatant review all comments for consideration as they
Photo by SAIS Hopkins
commanders, service chiefs, all sorts of different draft these AI principles in the coming months,”
players will find them useful in drafting future according to an announcement.

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Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also
the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That
Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker
was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written
about emerging technology in Slate, The Sun, MIT Technology
Review, Wilson Quarterly, The American Legion Magazine, BBC News
Magazine, Utne Reader, and elsewhere.
Patrick Tucker

Samuel Bendett is a Researcher at the CNA Corporation and a Fellow

in Russia Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.

Samuel Bendett

Paulina Glass is an editorial fellow at Defense One.

Paulina Glass

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