New bill aims to measure the military’s AI use

Republican senator wants stronger adoption of AI to counter the technology's potential threat to our nation's security

Brain with circuits in it

The Senate Armed Services Committee is reviewing a bill that would require the military to measure its use of artificial intelligence (AI)

The Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Metrics Act, introduced on September 30 by Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), would force the military to introduce key performance indicators measuring how effectively it used AI in operations. 

At the time of this writing, the Congress.gov website had not received the text for bill S.2094, but the filing describes it as "A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to establish performance objectives and accompanying metrics for the incorporation of artificial intelligence and digital readiness into Department of Defense platforms, processes, and operations, and for other purposes." 

NextGov, which has seen the five-page bill, says it would require government officials to identify potential technology applications for AI and create metrics and performance objectives to evaluate their deployment. Part of the evaluation includes identifying skills gaps in AI-related areas, including software development and data science. Internal DoD departments would then need to create recruiting drives to help build up capable talent. 

Rounds reportedly said the bill would help meet the National Security Commission on AI’s (NSCAI) recommendations. The Commission released a report in March warning the US was unprepared to defend itself against AI threats. It said China was a primary threat to the US due to its advanced AI research and prolific AI deployment. It recommended $40 billion in federal government investments in AI technology. 

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The DoD has made some moves to integrate AI into its operations. In June 2018, it created a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) under the DoD CIO's office to coordinate AI efforts agency-wide. 

The DoD launched an AI and data accelerator initiative to create proof-of-concept systems for data-driven warfare this June. The initiative tested algorithms in war scenarios to identify potential adoption hurdles, officials said.

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