Pentagon’s JAIC on the hunt for technology, technical experts to develop and test AI

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Caleb uses a computer program to identify network issues during his unit's training period at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tennessee, on May 5, 2019. Caleb's unit was training in advanced network systems and resolving network issues. (U.S. Air National Guard / Tech. Sgt. Mark Thompson)

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The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is in search of people to help build AI and the software to test it, according to a pair of new market research documents.

In late April the center posted an announcement seeking information on hiring 18-40 “highly technical” contractors who could assist in a range of mission support activities.

These contractors would perform systems engineering, cybersecurity and user experience design development, among other tasks.

Also last month, the center sought input on acquiring software for the testing and evaluation of a range of AI technologies. The solicitation shows the JAIC’s interest in implementing and developing its own AI systems in addition to being a hub of AI policy for the department.

The request for information lists a range of potential use cases for the testing and evaluation software from natural language processing to deep neural networks. Any purchased software would then be placed in the center’s Joint Common Foundation — a central hub for Department of Defense components to get their hands dirty using AI — “for use by the wider DoD community,” according to the RFI.

The shared JCF platform “will provide access to data, tools, environments, libraries and to other certified platforms to enable software and AI engineers to rapidly develop, evaluate, test and deploy AI-enabled solutions to warfighters,” JAIC Director Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan said in 2019 when it was first announced.

Both requests — while only for market research at this time — show the center’s plans for how it will continue to develop AI.

The center has already launched initiatives designed to assist in humanitarian assistance and predictive maintenance. Additionally, the JAIC launched a recent startup project in response to the coronavirus pandemic to focus on data fusion to predict panic buying of essential goods.

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artificial intelligence (AI), Jack Shanahan, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), request for information (RFI)
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