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Defense Innovation Unit Publishes 'Responsible AI Guidelines'

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The Defense Innovation Unit released its initial "Responsible AI Guidelines" document Nov. 15, with intent to operationalize the Defense Department's ethical principles of artificial intelligence into its commercial prototyping and acquisition efforts.

"DIU's RAI guidelines provide a step-by-step framework for AI companies, DOD stakeholders and program managers that can help to ensure that AI programs are built with the principles of fairness, accountability and transparency at each step in the development cycle of an AI system," Jared Dunnmon, PhD, technical director of the artificial intelligence/machine learning portfolio at DIU said.

An airman looks through a virtual reality lens.
Training System
Air Force Staff Sgt. Renee Scherf, curriculum engineer, demonstrates a virtual reality training system that uses artificial intelligence, June 10, 2021, at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Keith James
VIRIN: 210616-F-GV347-0009C

The DIU team has spent the last 18 months working with researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, and speaking with industry partners, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, academia and government officials, and testing these guidelines in order to solicit helpful feedback, Dunnmon said. They are intended specifically for use on DIU programs.

The aim of the guidelines, he said is to:

  • Accelerate programs from the outset by clarifying end goals, alignment of expectations, and acknowledgment of risks and trade-offs.
  • Increase confidence that AI systems are developed, tested, and vetted with the highest standards of fairness, accountability and transparency.
  • Support changes in the way AI technologies are evaluated, selected, prototyped and adopted in order to avoid potential bad outcomes.
  • Elicit questions and conversations that are crucial for AI project success.

A soldier works on a drone.
System Maintenance
Army Staff Sgt. Elise Denning, with the Artificial Intelligence Integration Center, conducts maintenance on an unmanned aerial system in preparation for Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2021.
Photo By: Army Spc. Kayla Anstey
VIRIN: 211020-O-JT723-969
An airman works on a laptop.
Battle Management
Air Force Master Sgt. Shane Keahiolalo, with the 169th Air Defense Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard, tests the new Battle Management Training NEXT system at the Western Air Defense Sector, Aug. 26, 2021, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. BMTN was developed in partnership with Vectrona, Breakaway Games and Sentrana to provide a host of first-ever combined artificial intelligence, machine learning, biometric and natural language processing capabilities consolidated into one training system. This video game-like system provides command and control battle management operators sustained, high quality, and low-cost training repetitions.
Photo By: Air National Guard Maj. Kimberly D. Burke
VIRIN: 210826-Z-QO338-1001C

The guidelines provide examples of how responsible AI considerations can be put into practice in real-world programs, in an effort to create a user-friendly and more easily understood document that expedites the process, Dunnmon said.

"Users want so they can trust and verify that their tools protect American interests without compromising our collective values," John Stockton, co-founder of Quantifind, a software technology company, that provided DIU feedback on the guidelines during their prototype project said. "These guidelines show promise for actually accelerating technology adoption, as it helps identify and get ahead of potentially show-stopping issues. We've found that leaning into this effort has also served us well outside of government, by strengthening internal controls and producing transparency and patterns of trust that can also be leveraged with all users, both public and private."

A drone flies.
Unmanned Aircraft
An unmanned aircraft system prepares for a landing during the Global Information Dominance Experiment 3 and Architecture and Demonstration Evaluation 5 at Camp Grayling, Mich., July 15, 2021. The system uses artificial intelligence.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Devin M. Rumbaugh
VIRIN: 210715-F-FM551-1110

To view the guidelines, visit:

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