A Closer Look: The Department of Defense AI Ethical Principles

  • By: The JAIC
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The U.S. Department of Defense officially adopted a series of ethical principles for Artificial Intelligence following recommendations provided to Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper by the Defense Innovation Board last October.

The DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will be the focal point for coordinating implementation of AI ethical principles for the department. The JAIC currently leads and facilitates a series of working groups that solicits input from services and AI and technology experts throughout the DOD.

These principles will apply to both combat and non-combat functions and assist the U.S. military in upholding legal, ethical and policy commitments in the field of AI.

The DoD’s AI ethical principles encompass five major areas:

  1. Responsible. DoD personnel will exercise appropriate levels of judgment and care, while remaining responsible for the development, deployment, and use of AI capabilities.
  2. Equitable. The Department will take deliberate steps to minimize unintended bias in AI capabilities.
  3. Traceable. The Department’s AI capabilities will be developed and deployed such that relevant personnel possess an appropriate understanding of the technology, development processes, and operational methods applicable to AI capabilities, including with transparent and auditable methodologies, data sources, and design procedure and documentation.
  4. Reliable. The Department’s AI capabilities will have explicit, well-defined uses, and the safety, security, and effectiveness of such capabilities will be subject to testing and assurance within those defined uses across their entire life-cycles.
  5. Governable. The Department will design and engineer AI capabilities to fulfill their intended functions while possessing the ability to detect and avoid unintended consequences, and the ability to disengage or deactivate deployed systems that demonstrate unintended behavior.