2021 DoD AI Symposium – Day Two Focuses on Moving with Speed to Enable AI-Readiness

  • By: JAIC Public Affairs
2021 DoD AI Symposium – Day Two Focuses on Moving with Speed to Enable AI-Readiness

During the second day of the 2021 DoD AI Symposium and Technical Exchange attendees returned to hear keynote speeches and presenters from across the Department and the JAIC. Topics ranged from building and AI workforce within the DoD, to global competitive challenges, to AI in support of pandemic responses and healthcare, to testing and evaluation, enabling AI deployment, to lesson learned and successes – and much more in between.

Thoughts from the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“We Have to Move With Speed”

General John E. Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff opened the day and did not mince words. He told attendees that the U.S. is in a strategic competition with China and Russia. “Unlike our adversaries, we will be transparent about how we develop AI capabilities,” he said. “There is a fundamental difference between our way of life and their desires.”

General Hyten built upon his speech from last year’s Symposium by discussing the looming threat that our adversaries pose, but emphasized the critical nature of the Department’s partnership with industry and our allies. “Our allies and partners are our greatest advantage. As in the past, we will be there for you and we know you will be there for us,” General Hyten said, assuredly. On the innovation front, he stressed the importance of using AI to increase our joint warfighting capabilities, maintaining a U.S. information advantage, and ensuring data accessibility, not only for DoD, but also our partners and allies.

As he concluded, General Hyten told attendees, “We have to move with speed, we are going way too slow. And we need to empower you to take risks and put more speed in the process.”

JCF: Reshaping the Department’s AI Ecosystem for AI/ML Ops
“Lowering Technical Barriers and Enabling AI Integration”

The JAIC’s own Joint Common Foundation (JCF) shared how the common development environment they facilitate enables integrated AI across the DoD and improves the way the Department does business. JCF presenters detailed several challenges that they are vigorously working to overcome including becoming AI ready, effectively using data, transitioning legacy systems, and advanced technological integration in order to drive AI capabilities into the future.

The JCF discussed how they are creating an AI-friendly ecosystem across the DoD by leading AI adoption at scale, accelerating joint AI capabilities, establishing a strong AI backbone, and driving change by enabling their Departmental partners. The JCF reaffirmed that they will create this AI ecosystem by lowering technical barriers and enabling AI integration in the Department.

Leadership Keynote – GEN Clarke, USSOCOM Commander
“A Wake-Up Call”

General Richard D. Clarke, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), addressed the attendees and shared several anecdotal “wake up calls” that USSOCOM received through the years as they have modernized and grown the emerging technical capabilities within their organization. He detailed several ways SOCOM has approached AI transformation including working with cryptocurrency, developing natural language processing capabilities, and strategically upskilling mid-level leaders in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

General Clarke emphasized that, “We need quick AI wins to drive change, coupled with long-term investments.” He also advised the DoD to embrace explainable AI because understanding how algorithms work will not only build trust with their operators, but also with the American public.

In addition to hearing from these sessions, attendees chose from more than 20 breakout sessions under three different tracks including enabling AI, implementing AI, and managing AI facilitated by the JAIC’s leaders and practitioners, and their DoD partners. Stay tuned to the AI in Defense blog for highlights from the last day of the 2021 DoD AI Symposium and Technical Exchange.