In a show of support for artificial intelligence research, the Pentagon is looking forward to revealing its plans to create a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), which may be based on Project Maven. The controversial project was created out of a partnership between the United States military and private companies, which trained algorithms how to analyze footage taken by drones. The new center will fit together with the expansion efforts of Project Maven’s technologies, especially into military operations and new fields.
The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), a proposal that Pentagon’s R&D chief Mike Griffin is set to submit in June, is intended to expedite intelligence and the use of machine learning technology by the military. In an interview with Wired, Bod Work, one of Project Maven founders, said that the center could serve as some kind of accelerator for artificial intelligence (AI) projects through the recruitment of commercial contractors to create military systems and software.
Project Maven, which is also dubbed the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Function Team, was established in April 2017. One of the main causes of the project’s controversy was the involvement of Google. In fact, the company’s employees about 4, 000 of them were signatories to a letter that was addressed to Google ’s chief executive officer Sundar Pichai, calling for the company to pull out. In addition, approximately a dozen Google employees have resigned from their duties this month in protest of the company’s involvement in Project Maven.
The aim of creating Project Maven was to come up with software algorithms that can differentiate between cars, people, and vehicles. It was also designed to track various objects of interest with the objective of setting up the system in combat zones, especially by 2017. The project successfully surpassed that goal judging from its latest iteration of the system, which can be quickly retrained and highlight items on a digital map in a bid to track new objects and minimize errors.
Even with the negative publicity surrounding Project Maven, the Pentagon went ahead to double the operating budget to $131 million in 2018. The move was propelled by the project’s success. According to the Defense Department, the algorithms were in use by military contractors operating in US military installation in Africa and the Middle East, near ISIS-controlled areas, and half a dozen locations around the world.
The military intends to leverage Project Maven’s machine learning algorithms in sorting through materials obtained in raids as well as potentially assisting intelligence analysts and the military to prioritize enemy targets. Presently, there is an ongoing process by researchers to fine-tune the computer vision algorithms, which were created in consideration of smaller, low-flying drones. Specifically, this technology was created for high-altitude independently flying aircraft like the Global Hawk that can conduct surveillance of combat areas at a height of approximately 60,000 feet.
Aside from the US, the Indian government also revealed the creation of a task force that will recommend ways that machine learning could be integrated into the nation ’s biological, nuclear, cybersecurity, land, naval and aviation resources. Russia is also believed to be investing considerably in an AI-driven defense system.