White House looks to fund DODs Joint AI Center

White House looks to fund DODs Joint AI Center

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are greeted by U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan as they arrive at the Pentagon, Jan 17, 2019. (DoD photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

Editors Note: This story has been updated with information from the Pentagons budget proposal.

President Donald Trumps fiscal 2020 budget proposal calls for $208 million to build out the Pentagons newly established artificial intelligence program.

Its just a fraction of the $927 million the military has requested in 2020 for the development of AI and machine learning for use in the field, to also include advanced image recognition through Project Maven.

The funding would be the first big investment in the Department of Defenses Joint AI Center (JAIC) but only about half of the$414 million that DOD first projected itd need in 2020to scale the program. JAIC has received less than $90 million in funding since its establishment in June 2018 and is staffed by military detailees.

Still, its a good sign for the Pentagons AI efforts, as the proposed funding suggests the administration is ready to back JAIC as a program of record and as the federal governments highest-profile use of operationalized or applied AI, as DOD calls it, to support a mission in the immediate- or near-term.

JAIC is central to the Pentagonsrecently published National AI Strategy. It is built around national mission initiatives (NMIs) which are broad, cross-functional programs that impact more than one mission or agency as well as component mission initiatives (CMIs), which are specific to individual components who are looking for an AI solution to a particular problem, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, the head of the program, told reporters in February.

JAIC is currently piloting two NMIs one focused on predictive maintenance and another on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Others are in the works, such as a project with U.S. Cyber Command on a cyberspace-related NMI, Shanahan said.

Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy added that the first year of JAIC was about starting small and that the big transformation and scaling of the organization will take place in its second year. Deasy and Shanahan were optimistic in February that the administration would request a sizable chunk of funding for the programs growth.

However, JAIC isnt the departments only venture into AI nor would the proposed funding, if passed, be its biggest investment into the technology. The Pentagons research arm DARPAlaunched a $2 billion campaign called AI Nextlast year to investigate Third Wave AI technologies, moving AI beyond the mode where it needs lots of high-quality training data in myriad situations to develop an algorithm. That program is complementary but different from JAIC in that it invests in long-term research of AI rather than the near-term military use cases. Deasy has said that as DARPAs long-term AI research bears fruit it will fuel the work of JAIC in the future.

2020 budgetartificial intelligencebudgetDana DeasyDepartment of Defense (DOD)Jack ShanahanJoint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC)

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