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'Victory Garden' Approach Could Aid AI Effort

Sept. 10, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

Americans bolstered the war effort during World War II by planting "victory gardens." Every citizen's small contribution to the war effort added up to a lot of support. The same can be done to further the Defense Department's efforts to advance artificial intelligence, said the acting director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

A man sits in front of a microphone.
Pentagon Briefing
Nand Mulchandani, acting director of the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, briefs reporters about the DOD's initiatives with artificial intelligence at the Pentagon, July 8, 2020.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 200708-D-BN624-0029A

"The first step in doing this involves thinking critically about the work that you do," said Nand Mulchandani yesterday during the opening session at the DOD AI Symposium. "Can you do it more efficiently? Can you rethink it? Could it benefit from automation, analytics or predictive capabilities? Is it 'data-rich?' If so, it might be a perfect candidate to build your own AI victory garden around."

Mulchandani said DOD employees can plant "technological seeds" by learning more about AI, defining areas within their own work environment where AI could help solve problems, developing business strategies to implement AI capabilities, organizing and preserving data, starting an AI project, and sharing lessons learned from their own AI efforts with others across the department.

Several service members wearing face masks check the contents of a case  of canned goods.
Chief Checkup
Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, visits the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank where Louisiana National Guard soldiers are preparing food boxes for distribution to area residents during the COVID-19 response in Baton Rouge, La., April 23, 2020. Disaster response is one area where the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has used AI to improve operations.
Photo By: Army Master Sgt. Toby Valadie
VIRIN: 200423-Z-VU198-1118A

"The good news is that you'll have support from the JAIC and the AI community that we’re building across the government, industry and academia," Mulchandani said.

The JAIC was begun in 2018 to accelerate DOD's adoption and integration of AI. From the start, Mulchandani said, the JAIC was meant to serve as an AI center of excellence and to provide resources, tools and expertise to the department.

Two service members wearing aviation headgear crouch to look at a map.
Marine Exercise
Marines participate in a command and control exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 7, 2017. Command and control is one area of military operations that’s being looked at for enhancement with artificial intelligence.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Becky Calhoun
VIRIN: 170506-M-XO599-133A

Today, the JAIC is involved in pathfinder technology projects, coordinating with industry and academia on AI, training and education, AI governance and policy, testing and evaluation, international engagement, and AI ethics implementation.

While the mission of the JAIC is broad and far-reaching, Mulchandani said the JAIC alone can't make AI happen across the department.

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Command and Control
An Army special forces soldier from Combined Special Operations Task Force 10 serving in Eastern Afghanistan provides command and control support and assistance while mentoring a provincial response company of the Afghan National Security Forces in February 2012. Command and control is one area of military operations that’s being looked at for enhancement with artificial intelligence.
Photo By: Army Maj. Joel Anderson
VIRIN: 120224-A-ZZ999-001

"This is a massive effort and is one that the JAIC embraces because we understand that all of these initiatives will help create the conditions for us to achieve victory with AI," he said. "But we cannot do this alone ... no single organization can tackle the challenges of fielding AI on their own — it will take our entire community."