AI is the next revolutionary technology that will accelerate the mission of the Department of Defense. Newly boundless in its applications, “AI” joins “cyber” and “cloud” as the most important information technologies that have arrived in the last 25 years. In July 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) marked the one-year anniversary of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO), which brought together the DoD Chief Data Officer (CDO), Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Defense Digital Service (DDS), and Advancing Analytics (ADVANA) Office.
The CDAO was tasked to shape AI policies and data strategies for the DoD and its related agencies. Notable achievements for the year can be found here, including the identification of a Digital Hierarchy of Needs, which highlighted “four areas necessary to accelerate and scale data, analytics, and AI/ML adoption in support of DoD priorities,” a prescient exercise for what was to come.
When OpenAI released ChatGPT as a part of a free research preview in November of 2022, no one could have predicted it would become the fastest-growing web platform in history. This single event ushered in the generative AI revolution that has affected industries across the public sector, including the DoD.
Task Force Lima
In response, on August 10, 2023, under the direction of Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks, the CDAO launched Task Force Lima, a specialized team comprised of partnerships across the DoD, the intelligence community, research professionals, and other agencies dedicated to minimizing redundancy while exploring generative artificial intelligence technologies (and their impacts to mission) such as large language models (LLMs). With a team of AI experts, data scientists, and engineers, the unit is set to become a hub for research, risk assessment, development, and implementation of AI systems in defense operations.
Exploring opportunities while highlighting risks
When trained on the vast stores of government data, generative AI has the potential to provide myriad benefits to the DoD in operational areas “such as warfighting, cybersecurity, business affairs, supply chain management, health, readiness, and policy” including:
- IT Workforce Augmentation: Generative AI has the potential to augment the IT workforce at the DoD in several ways, enhancing efficiency and productivity through automating mundane/routine IT tasks such as software patching, malware analysis, system monitoring, and data entry. This augmentation enables the workforce to focus on more complex tasks and accelerate productivity.
- Cybersecurity: Generative AI has the potential to significantly boost cybersecurity by enhancing threat detection and response capabilities. Through the automated analysis of vast data sets and historical attack patterns, generative models can screen for and predict and simulate potential cyber threats to enable cyber warriors to focus on more complex tasks and enhance defense capabilities.
- Planning and Training: AI algorithms can help in optimizing mission planning by considering/integrating factors such as terrain, weather, enemy capabilities, and logistical constraints in real time while suggesting optimal routes, tactics, and strategies for military operations, thus improving outcomes for mission planning.
- Medical and Health Applications: Generative AI models can assist in analyzing medical images such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans as well as enhancing the quality of medical images, making it easier for providers to use AI to optimize, identify, and diagnose health issues. It has already been demonstrated that the use of AI has improved the effectiveness of medical image scanning by over 20 percent.
It’s all about data…and its trustworthiness
As I mentioned above, generative AI can present significant opportunities but is not without challenges. Regarding the challenges the task force must tackle, the most crucial is determining the data associated with the selected challenge and its attendant security. The risk of accidental or intentional data leakage or misuse can be a significant challenge, which means the DoD must meet or exceed the various regulations and legal frameworks governing data use, privacy, and security through rigorous identity management.
Coupled with that is the new AI-influenced threat landscape. Generative AI models are vulnerable to adversarial attacks, where malicious actors can manipulate input data to generate misleading or harmful outputs. In defense applications, this will lead to the creation of deceptive content or misinformation.
Verification and authenticity are concerns as generative AI can produce incredibly realistic and convincing text, images, and videos. This poses challenges in verifying the authenticity of content, making it difficult to distinguish between AI-generated and human-generated information.
Managing data to support AI initiatives
Solving these data challenges requires robust data management capabilities that enable the DoD to efficiently collect, store, and analyze vast amounts of data while ensuring the secure and compliant handling of sensitive information.
With Cloudera, a world-class leader in Open Data Lakehouse for Trusted AI, the DoD can harness the power of generative AI to improve mission planning, intelligence analysis, and cybersecurity, ultimately enhancing national security efforts through cutting-edge technology solutions.