The Pentagon is still new to using artificial intelligence and is seeking help from an outsider. break defenses has learned Craig Martell, Lyft’s head of machine learning, joins the Department of Defense as Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO). He will lead the American military’s AI, analytics and data strategies and play a key role in a Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative to improve awareness of multi-force combat through technology.
Martell is a partial outsider. While he ran the Naval Postgraduate School’s AI-driven Natural Language Processing Lab for 11 years, he was not involved in military leadership. Outside of Lyft, he is best known for leading AI work at Dropbox and LinkedIn. As CDAO, Martell said he expects to spend the first three to six months identifying “fixed customers” and the systems his office needs to improve. For fiscal 2023, he will have a budget of $600 million.
However, the office itself was only created months earlier. Martell also told break defenses He believed that someone from his private background could be “very agile” in a way that an established military leader might not have. The Department of Defense “really needs” someone who can quickly change strategies in AI and analytics, the new CDAO said.
The US military is relatively new to AI use as it is. The Department of Defense did not release its draft AI ethics guidelines until late 2019, and use of the technology was initially focused on experimentation rather than frontline autonomy. Martell could play a significant role in defining the Pentagon’s approach to AI in the years to come, if only because many areas remain relatively unexplored.
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