What a Year for the JAIC – Looking back at 2020

  • By: JAIC Public Affairs
What a Year for the JAIC – Looking back at 2020

What a year for the JAIC! The following is a look back at some of the highlights and stories of JAIC milestones and initiatives throughout 2020. As the organization moves forward into 2021, the JAIC will remain focused on broadly enabling the Department of Defense to implement game changing AI technology from the back office to the tactical edge.

January 2020

JAIC helps the DoD Forge Closer Cooperation with NATO on AI
NATO allies need to join the US in developing artificial intelligence capabilities to gain an upper hand over China and Russia, which are working together on AI in ways that threaten shared Western values, the military’s top AI expert said Jan. 15.

Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said that while the US is moving forward on AI as a military initiative, some NATO allies are progressing slower because ethical debates have “immobilized” some countries. “Success with AI adoption requires a multi-generational commitment with the right combination of tactical urgency and strategic patience,” Shanahan told reporters on a call from Brussels, where he is meeting with NATO officials. “The US, along with our NATO allies, will face difficult decisions regarding the future of legacy systems and platforms in an era where technological innovations are transforming every aspect of the human experience.”
Read More: https://www.airforcemag.com/dod-ai-leader-wants-closer-collaboration-with-nato/

February 2020

The JAIC Plays a Critical Role in Adopting Ethical Principles for DoD Artificial Intelligence
In February, the DoD adopted ethical principles that uphold the legal, ethical, and policy commitments in AI. The JAIC is responsible for transitioning these AI ethical principles in practice. Under the guidance of Ms. Alka Patel, the head of the JAIC’s AI Ethics Policy, two major initiatives were launched in 2020: the DoD-wide Responsible AI Subcommittee and the Responsible AI Champions pilot. Over the year, the importance of ethical AI was evangelized in a variety of audiences including Forbes, AI World Government, and the 2nd Annual Ethical AI Symposium.

Learn more about the JAIC’s AI Ethics Policy: A Closer Look: The Department of Defense AI Ethical Principles, The DoD AI Ethical Principles -Shifting From Principles to Practice, From Principles to Practice: Building AI Ethics into JCF Operations

March 2020

The JAIC Adapted and Delivered Critical AI Technology to support the DoD’s COVID-19 Response
In March, the JAIC launched Project Salus in an early response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coordinating with the U.S. Northern Command and National Guard Bureau, the team developed a predictive tool to help identify where critical supply chain shortages were occurring. DoD CIO HON Dana Deasy lauded the effort for “adapting and delivering real-world solutions when the strategic landscape and priorities change.”
Read More: https://www.ai.mil/blog_05_20_20-the_jaic_forges_ahead.html

April 2020

JAIC Leaders Establish Data Governance Council
The JAIC laid the foundations for an organizational data governance council. The Data Governance Council is made up of JAIC representatives from the Joint Common Foundation, along with the JAIC’s product, policy, and mission teams. The council’s overall mission is to make sure that the JAIC properly securing, organizing, storing, and managing its growing collection of data assets on the JCF.
Read More: https://www.ai.mil/blog_04_30_20-jaic-leaders-establish-data-governance-council.html

May 2020

The JAIC Accelerates AI for Joint Warfighting Operations
The U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center today announced the award of its 5-year, task order to Booz Allen Hamilton through GSA’s Alliant 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract.

Work on this task order will deliver artificial intelligence (AI) enabled products to support warfighting operations and be instrumental in embedding AI decision-making and analysis at all tiers of DoD operations. The delivered AI products will leverage the power of DoD data to enable a transformational shift across the Department that will give the U.S. a definitive information advantage to prepare for future warfare operations.
Read More:https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/newsroom/news-releases/gsa-awards-alliant-2-joint-warfighter-task-order

June 2020

JAIC’s Inaugural Director Departs
The JAIC’s first director, Lt Gen Jack Shanahan, departed the organization in June, ultimately retiring after an illustrious 36 years in uniform. Under his strategic leadership, the JAIC transformed from a small Pentagon outfit to a 200-person organization in less than two years. Lt Gen Shanahan had a clear vision for the JAIC, steadily guiding the groundbreaking organization as it laid the foundation of transforming the DoD through AI.

Learn more about Lt Gen Shanahan’s retirement: JAIC Director Reflects, Bids Farewell to Partners in Government & Private Sector

July 2020

The JAIC Completes Responsible AI Champions Pilot
This pilot led by Alka Patel, Head of AI Ethics Policy at the JAIC, included a cohort of 15 people from across the JAIC representing the primary functional areas. The cohort spent nine weeks engaged in experiential learning, discussing actionable ways in which the DoD AI Ethical Principles can shape and be shaped by each participant’s functional roles in the JAIC, and more broadly within the DoD. The initial training and weekly sessions were taught by a multidisciplinary group of subject matter experts with a mix of content, breakout discussions, and case studies. The outcome was the creation of a community of individuals who are knowledgeable advocates of the DoD AI Ethical principles, are helping to operationally define the principles substantively and through engineering practices, and who will engage in peer-to-peer teaching within their areas.
Read More: https://www.ai.mil/blog_07_08_20-jaic_completes_responsible_ai_champions_pilot.html

August 2020

JAIC begins Prime Vendor Contract for the Joint Common Foundation
The Defense Information Systems Agency awarded a four-year task order, with an award value of $106 million, Systems Engineering, Technology, and Innovation prime integrator Aug. 11 to design and build the Joint Common Foundation Artificial Intelligence development environment for the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. CF provides DoD with an AI development environment to test, validate and field AI capabilities. The impact of JCF will come from the development of scalable AI-enabled capabilities in a secure environment in accordance with DoD Development, Security, and Operations principles.
Read More: https://www.ai.mil/news_08_12_20-the_disa_awards_106m_%20prime_integrator_task_order_for_jaic_jcf.html

September 2020

The JAIC Facilitates the First Annual DoD AI Symposium | Making AI Real
The DoD’s first ever DoD Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition was held on September 9 and 10, 2020. The two-day virtual event brought together more than 2300 DoD, industry, academia, and government AI experts and professionals to discuss the Department’s current activities, future direction, challenges, and areas of collaboration with industry and academia that surround the operationalization of AI. Notable speakers included former Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten, and the HON Dan Deasy shared their thoughts on what this game-changing technology means for the Warfighter and Department as a whole.
Read More: https://www.ai.mil/ai2020.html

JAIC facilitates first-ever International AI Dialogue for Defense The Department of Defense
Joint AI Center hosted the first-ever AI Partnership for Defense September 15-16 with military and defense forces from 13 nations. The PfD is envisioned to serve as a recurring forum for like-minded defense partners to discuss their respective policies, approaches, and challenges in adopting AI-enabled capabilities. During the inaugural PfD, representatives shared lessons learned and best practices in harnessing AI for their respective and shared defense missions. The two-day dialogue focused on AI ethical principles for defense, including defining principles and best practices for implementing principles into the AI delivery pipeline.
Read More:  https://www.ai.mil/news_09_16_20-jaic_facilitates_first-ever_international_ai_dialogue_for_defense_.html

October 2020

JAIC Welcomes a New Director
LtGen Michael Groen became the JAIC’s new director on October 1, 2020, ushering a wave of new approaches and ideas across the organization. In November, he announced JAIC 2.0, an initiative that will accelerate AI adoption across every facet of the military. “We will be more ‘problem-pull’ than ‘product-push’,” he stated. JAIC 2.0 will accelerate the Department’s ability to facilitate rapid, data-driven and data-informed AI decisions by impacting warfighting enterprises, enabling support operations to increase efficiencies, and launching and maturing the Joint Common Foundation as a technical host platform.

December 2020

JAIC Initiating Tradewind AI Acquisition Model
The JAIC is developing solutions that enable the Department’s AI pioneers to hasten their journeys to AI implementation. One such tool is an AI acquisition business model, appropriately called Tradewind.Leveraging Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements, Tradewind seeks to quickly, easily, and repeatedly identify, acquire, and operationalize critical AI technologies and services from traditional and non-traditional partners.
Read More: https://www.ai.mil/blog_12_01_20-the_dept_is_riding_tradewind_to_hasten_its_ai_acquisition_efforts.html

Throughout 2020 -The JAIC Delivers Capabilities

AI for Humanitarian Disaster Relief

AI to assist in Military Healthcare

AI to fix Payroll Errors

AI in Aircraft Predictive Maintenance


The JAIC in 2021 – Building an AI Future by focusing on AI in the Present

The JAIC team is taking the holiday period to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of 2020 and seeking ways to create transformational impact in 2021. While the JAIC made significant progress in jumpstarting AI in the two and a half years since it was established, the strategic environment is constantly changing and the organization must continually adapt to transform the U.S. military through AI. In 2021, the JAIC will place more focus on enabling the military services, combatant commands, and Department of Defense enterprises to pursue their AI projects – whether directly or through supporting organizations that are using AI to solve those use cases that can be scaled.

“During World War One, the transformation to industrial age warfare was entirely foreseeable, but not foreseen. Today we are surrounded by the artifacts of the information age. The impacts of the information era cannot be foreseen, and not acted on. Our mandate is understanding and acting on its implications.”
    - LtGen Michael Groen, Director, DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence Center