JAIC gets acting director following Shanahan’s departure

(DOD / Lisa Ferdinando)

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Nand Mulchandani, chief technology officer of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, took the reigns of the Pentagon’s AI hub Monday.

Mulchandani’s designation, announced in a release published Tuesday, comes as Lt. Gen. John “Jack” Shanahan, the inaugural director of the JAIC, stepped down as head of the organization at the beginning of the month.

Shanahan, a three-star Air Force general, praised Mulchandani for bringing innovative ideas from Silicon Valley to the Department of the Defense. Mulchandani joined the JAIC in 2019 after more than 25 years as an executive in security software and enterprise infrastructure companies.

Mulchandani will serve in an acting capacity until a permanent head is confirmed later this year. The next leader will be another three-star general or flag officer, according to the announcement.

“As all great founders would do, we’ve worked together to assemble a great team of leaders and specialists in AI and data science, product builders, policy and strategy, and operations to help scale our AI efforts across the Department of Defense,” Mulchandani said in the release. “We’re inspired and excited to build on this foundation to win in this exciting new area of technology.”

Since joining, Mulchandani has been instrumental in consolidating the JAIC’s lines of efforts and organizing its technical pushes to move faster. He introduced a venture capital-style of development, using small teams to rapidly testing and evaluate pilot projects instead of the more cautious approaches common in with military technology.

“He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Department of Defense and the JAIC as the organization moves forward with its vision of transforming the DoD through AI,” the release stated about Mulchandani.

Mulchandani takes over JAIC in the interim at a time when AI is poised to play a pivotal role in the future of national security and American prosperity, Shanahan said in parting words tweeted out by the JAIC.

“As I walk out of the Pentagon for the final time, as the director of the JAIC, I am convinced more than ever that our future national security, economic security, and preservation of ideals embodied in the Constitution depend on embracing artificial intelligence across every element of the Department of Defense and society,” he said.

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Air Force, artificial intelligence (AI), CTO, Department of Defense (DOD), Jack Shanahan, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Nand Mulchandani
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