Pentagon needs new AI strategy to catch up with China
The department also needs to strengthen public-private partnerships, be more accountable to the taxpayer, and devote at least 10 percent of its budget to developing lean and self-sustaining methods of warfare.
However, as I have observed, defense leaders often fail to understand the technology itself and refuse to hold accountable those who understand it. If you are a leader and new to the topic, educate yourself and be prepared for advice or to step aside.
We need to impose at least one hour per day of continuous learning for employees. The other common mistake is creating more siled AI and data teams or worse yet, a “cyber force”.
We don’t need specialized units rushing to save the day. Software, cyber, and AI must be built into every DoD team. Concepts like the Pentagon’s digital defense service, ostensibly set up to deliver new technology through DoD, have failed in part because they exist in a vacuum.
We also need to create respected career paths for software, cybersecurity, data science, AI and machine learning, with rising salaries and titles so they aren’t seen as dead ends.
To update its workforce, the Pentagon should collaborate more with industry.
The United States has incredible companies innovating in everything from self-driving cars to space exploration and quantum computing. Unfortunately, the DoD continues to outperform the information. This prevents him from informing industry partners of the extent of China’s assaults, which range from embedding spies in our companies to the theft of intellectual property and the conduct of cyber attacks.
As a result, many American companies still refuse to work with the Pentagon. I think if he was able to share more about the nature of the threat, more people would want to team up with the military to win this fight.
Bringing in foreign defense expertise means correcting the clearance processes, so people can enter and leave government to gain skills and experience. We need to allow the folks in DoD to spend time working in start-ups and innovative companies like Tesla and SpaceX, and to come back and apply their knowledge for the military. Without sufficient talent, American defense cannot succeed.
Finally, we must stop preparing for bad fights. The next war will be software defined; it will not be won with a $ 1.7 trillion ($ 2.4 trillion) fifth-generation F35 fighter jet or $ 12 billion aircraft carrier program.
China can shut down our power grid without pulling a single blow, due to the maternal-level cybersecurity in our critical national infrastructure. This shows that we are investing in the wrong defense capabilities.
As we saw recently with the Colonial Pipeline hack, the risk is tangible. We need to act now to swap some F35 jets for scalable autonomous systems like drone swarming, self-flying jets and ships, hypersonic and cybernetic capabilities, and military advances in space.
Reports claiming that the United States has up to 10 years to take meaningful action on AI are simply false. Analysts forget that AI innovation is advancing exponentially, depending on the speed of deployment and the volume of data available to train its models.
Since China has more experts engaged in this field and more data, the United States is already at a disadvantage. By this time next year, it will be too late to catch up.
The writer was previously the first head of software for the US Air Force and US Space Force. He is now CTO at cybersecurity firm Prevent Breach.