The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence published its final report this spring, grimly declaring that “America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI [artificial intelligence] era,” and warning that “within the next decade, China could surpass the United States as the world’s AI superpower.”
As U.S. intelligence agencies pivot from the war on terror to the new era of near-peer competition, the information landscape on which they operate is shifting dramatically, as detailed in the recently released report from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
For two decades, U.S. intelligence operated in an information poor environment—hunting its elusive adversaries through fleeting glimpses on surveillance video or wisps of cellphone traffic. And, thanks to the technical and operational excellence of U.S. collection, even that information poor environment often generated an overwhelming volume of data.
The 11 combatant commands of the U.S. military are on the front lines of protecting U.S. national security. They hold the toughest problem sets, from protecting and defending the United States or its interests abroad, deterring aggression, carrying out missions, providing humanitarian assistance or building cooperation with other nations.
Revolutionary ways to gather, parse and share information in the innovation era is propelling the intelligence community into resourceful ways of doing business. To tackle the challenges lightning-speed technology changes and applications generate, 18 U.S. intelligence organizations must accept cultural changes and risk toleration to prepare for adversaries weaponizing the same capabilities against the U.S. and its allies, experts agree.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is responsible for providing intelligence on foreign militaries, is prepared in the coming weeks to release a new capability for the Machine-assisted Analytic Rapid-repository System (MARS). The new module, known as Order of Battle, will provide insights into foreign military forces.
Competition in the information domain does not happen nationally. It happens locally, said Ben Leo, CEO and co-founder of Fraym, an international open-source intelligence and data analytics company.
“Competition in the information domain simply doesn’t happen at the national level. It happens in communities, neighborhoods, and even down to individual households or homes,” Leo said during a SIGNAL Executive Video Series discussion with Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine’s editor in chief.
Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, intelligent radios and artificial intelligence applications all potentially offer the military advanced capabilities for the tactical environment, say Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL’s) Julia Andrusenko, chief engineer, Tactical Wireless Systems Group, and Mark Simkins, program manager, Resilient Tactical Communications Networks.
Researchers have learned some surprising lessons from the technologies developed under the Defense Department’s Squad X program, which will end this year. For example, artificial intelligence may not help warfighters make faster decisions, but it does provide a planning advantage over adversaries. Furthermore, when it comes to detecting and electronically attacking enemy signals, systems can make smart decisions without artificial intelligence.
Collaboration.Ai LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, was awarded a $10,000,000 maximum indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (H92408-21-D-0002) with firm-fixed-price and cost-reimbursable contract line items to facilitate AFWERX Challenges using its Augmented Human/Community Performance Platform to conduct market research for the High Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft concept. Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $250,000 are being obligated at the time of award. The facilitation will primarily be conducted virtually and is expected to be completed by March 2024. This is a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III contract award.
Aura Technologies LLC,* Raleigh, North Carolina, was awarded a $49,997,256 hybrid (cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price) contract to design, develop, test and field artificial intelligence for tactical power, operations and advanced manufacturing technologies. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of March 11, 2026. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911NF-21-D-0002). *Small Business
The tsunami of information that will hit with the full exploitation of 5G cellular will create a wealth of open source intelligence that will define the art in coming years. New sensor systems, artificial intelligence (AI) processing and expanded information delivery methods will produce new types of intelligence available in greater detail for a range of customers.
The potential proliferation of hypersonic weapons highlights the need to advance a wide range of other technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, laser weapons and fully networked command, control and communications systems, says George Kailiwai III, director, requirements and resources (J-8) for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation announced awards for two collaborative projects. Totaling $1.5 million, the projects will develop advanced homeland security technologies in the areas of threat detection and 3D mapping. The BIRD Homeland Security (HLS) program is a joint initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Israel Ministry of Public Security (MOPS).
The 2020 HLS awardees are:
Technological leaps in ground station capabilities, such as interference cancellation, band diversity and phased array antennas, will allow the U.S. Army to use new Internet of Things satellite constellations to boost combat communications. New technologies offer lower latency, higher throughput and greater network resilience while being easier for soldiers to use.
Recent Army experiments, including the Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) and Project Convergence, have included a range of technologies for enhancing and protecting satellite communications (SATCOM). The technologies will support Army modernization goals, including a more resilient network, long-range precision fires and air and missile defense.
Today, the U.S. Army issued the final request for proposals for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) concept design phase. The request for proposals asks for a common modular open architecture that will allow the rapid insertion of new software capabilities as they become available.
Within the next decade or two, technological advances may revolutionize the Internet, creating an environment that is secure for all, provides more power to the people and offers an immersive, virtual reality experience as a part of daily life, according to a recent study of strategic foresight.
The study was completed this summer by the TechCast Project, a virtual think tank that focuses on strategic forecasting. The project was founded by William Halal, professor emeritus of management, technology, and innovation at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Pentagon officials are developing a strategy related to the joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) concept that should be delivered soon to the combatant commands, according to Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, the Joint Staff's chief information officer and director of command, control, communications and computers, also known as the J-6.
Gen. Crall made the comments during the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference, a virtual event held December 1-3.
Electronic implants in the brain or other parts of the body may be more efficient and effective due to a recent breakthrough by researchers at the University of Delaware. The advance potentially offers a wide array of biotechnology benefits and could also allow humans to control unmanned vehicles and other technologies with the brain.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing a machine learning tool that can more quickly detect cyber intrusions and enable a more rapid response.
A breakthrough in materials could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of electronic implants in the human brain or other parts of the body. The advance could offer an array of biotechnology benefits and allow humans to control unmanned vehicles and other technologies directly with their brains.
The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts as evolving technologies come together to spawn entirely new capabilities that will affect the connected world. That connected world itself will be expanding as innovations empower people far beyond existing, and even envisioned, parameters
As with all advances, this new connected world will not be without drawbacks. Security and privacy concerns will be greater, as the potential threats become more ubiquitous. But some capabilities may bring their own solutions to these challenges.
The fourth and final phase of the Gremlins unmanned aerial system program will include collaborative autonomy software that allows one person to control multiple unmanned air vehicles. The technology extends the capability of unmanned aircraft systems to conduct long-distance engagements of mobile ground and maritime targets in areas with poor communications or limited navigational signals.
The U.S. Army’s infinitely adaptable situational awareness tool created a decade ago continues to find new uses thanks to artificial intelligence, wearable computers, virtual reality, unmanned systems and other cutting-edge technologies.
The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. It is compatible with Android, Apple iOS and Windows. The Air Force, FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and Special Operations Forces are among the organizations that have customized it for their own purposes.
a.i. solutions Inc.,* Lanham, Maryland, is being awarded a $203,204,319 competitive, cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort contract with a three-year base value of $77,728,390 and two one-year options for quality and mission assurance advisory and assistance services. The work will be performed in the National Capital Region; Dahlgren, Virginia; Huntsville, Alabama; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Greely, Alaska; Orlando, Florida; Moorestown, New Jersey; Tucson, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; Promontory, Utah; Joplin, Missouri; and other locations as directed, with an estimated completion date of December 2025. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the beta.SAM.gov website with two proposals received.
The recently completed Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) included an army of autonomous agents unleashed in defense of the network and in some cases also protected other artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
NetModX is a science and technology experiment held July 20-October 2 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The science and technology experiment provides lessons learned for Army acquisition decisions, science and technology specifications, requirements and strategies necessary to modernize the force. Systems that performed well this year might ultimately end up in the Army’s arsenal as part of the capability sets to be fielded in 2023 and 2025.
The U.S. Army’s joint strategy document for countering small unmanned aerial systems should be headed soon to the Secretary of Defense for approval, Army officials say, and artificial intelligence and machine learning are crucial to the vision.
During a telephone discussion with reporters, Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, USA, director of the Joint Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office and director of fires, G-3/5/7, described artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as “critical” to the military’s efforts to counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, has been awarded an $8,696,785 cost-reimbursement contract for Design.R – artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted cyber physical systems design software prototype. This contract provides for developing an AI co-designer composed of design space construction, design composition and design space exploration that will interoperate seamlessly to enable a tightly integrated design process. Work will be performed in Nashville, Tennessee; Edmonton Alberta, Canada; and Szeged, Hungary, and is expected to be completed by September 24, 2024. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and 25 offers were received.
Artificial intelligence technology tested during the Army’s Project Convergence exercise largely met expectations and will help transform the way the Army fights in the future, officials say.
The United States and its great power rivals are taking different paths in their pursuit of artificial intelligence (AI), but all three are devoting significant resources to what they believe will be a game changer. Their uses of AI also are likely to be different, as their approach to ethics varies according to each nation’s principles.
A breakout session panel provided a global view on the race for AI during the third and final day of the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit being held online September 16-18. Panelists assessed the differences in AI research and applications among Russia, China and the United States.
Data in various forms supports a wide range of national security missions, and whichever country is best able to use that data will have a distinct advantage, according to intelligence agency experts speaking at the virtual 2020 Intelligence and National Security Summit.
The FBI’s pilot iris recognition program initiated in 2013 will likely be fully operational this fall, possibly by October 1. The agency also is developing tools to detect fingerprints that have been deliberately mutilated and a scanner large enough to get a print of the entire palm along with all five fingerprints.
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $70,000,000 cost-no-fee contract to research and develop a new translational research methodology that leverages autonomy and artificial intelligence to minimize time spent on low-impact, high-time activities. Bids were solicited via the internet with 999 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of September 3, 2025. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QX-20-D-0008).
Geospark Analytics Inc.,* Herndon, Virginia, has been awarded a $95,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a five year ordering period for the Phase Three commercialization of their Small Business Innovation Research Phase One technology of Hyperion Artificial Intelligence. The enterprise-level contract provides near real time situational awareness capabilities to the entire U.S. federal government, enabling users to make better decisions faster. This is accomplished by identifying and forecasting emerging events on a global scale to mitigate risk, recognize threats, greatly enhance indications and warnings and provide predictive analytics capabilities.
To fully counter the threats posed by adversaries, the Department of Defense needs to harness autonomous and robotic systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The nation’s military is falling short of pursuing those systems on the large scale necessary, an expert says. Moreover, the department needs to holistically consider the purpose for which it is harnessing artificial intelligence, or AI, across the services, says Robert Work, the former 32nd deputy secretary of defense.
Over the last year and a half, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Future Capabilities and Innovation Office, or FCI, has iteratively developed a new strategy to drive innovation and collaboration to the agency. The DIA, as the agency is known, is looking to harness artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, counterintelligence tools and other solutions to identify and assess cyber behaviors, among other capabilities. The FCI also must be able to measure the impacts of any solutions.
Deloitte Consulting LLC, Arlington, Virginia, was awarded a Systems Engineering, Technology, and Innovation prime integrator task order (HC102820F2000) for an estimated $106,352,518 to design and build the Joint Common Foundation artificial intelligence development environment for the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The period of performance is a one-year base period from August 17, 2020, through August 16, 2021, valued at approximately $31,000,000, with three one-year option periods through August 16, 2024. Work will be performed in the greater Washington, D.C., area.
The U.S. Army wants an automated communications planning system. In the short term, researchers expect to use an “intelligent engine” but in the future, artificial intelligence will likely take over the task.
Planning communications for different conditions is commonly known as PACE planning. The acronym stands for “primary, alternate, contingency and emergency” communications. Different situations call for different communications systems, explains Michael Brownfield, chief of the Army Future Capabilities Office within the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s research organization formally named the Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center.
Manned-unmanned teaming technologies being assessed in a weeks-long experiment are receiving mostly positive reviews from Army officials and non-commissioned officers.
The Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team and Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center are conducting soldier operational experiments at Ft. Carson, Colorado, from June 15 through August 14. The goal is to observe, collect and analyze feedback from soldiers to assess the feasibility of integrating unmanned vehicles into ground combat formations.
Transparency and integrity are two key principles headlining the list of artificial intelligence (AI) ethics released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). This list, released in combination with an AI ethics framework for the community, represents the first strike by the ODNI to apply guidance to the development and use of AI in the intelligence community.
Robots may one day learn to perform complex tasks simply by watching humans accomplish those tasks. That ability will allow people without programming skills to teach artificial intelligence systems to conduct certain functions or missions.
Teaching artificial intelligence systems or robots usually requires software engineers. Those programmers normally interview domain experts on what they need the machines to do and then translate that information into programming language, explains Ankit Shah, a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) and the Interactive Robotics Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Industry and government organizations are eager to find ways to combine structured and unstructured data to improve communications about national security threats to the public more effectively. Merging this information will enable the intelligence community (IC) to take advantage of the strengths of both data types and allow analysts to quickly search and assess structured data with the wealth of insights in the unstructured environment.
The U.S. Department of Defense is purchasing vehicle recognition software from Columbia, Maryland-based Rekor Systems, Inc., which specializes in roadway artificial intelligence-based platforms. Under the $160,000 license purchase, DOD will deploy the software to existing cameras to support national security efforts, the company announced on June 22. The software can identify in real time vehicle license plate data, along with the color, make, model and body type of vehicles.
To harness the technological revolution in the face of rising adversarial competition, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency issued its first report in 2019 publicly outlining areas of focus for capability adoption. This year, the agency, known as the NGA, issued a strategy as well as identifying focus areas. The NGA is looking for technologies from the commercial sector to support joint warfighters in an era of great power competition in advanced analytics and modeling; data management; modern software engineering; artificial intelligence; and future of work. The agency also emphasized not only improving the U.S.’s competitive stance “in all realms,” but also supporting allied advancements.
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $70,000,000 cost-no-fee contract for research and development of an artificial intelligence innovation framework. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of April 6, 2025. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911NF-20-D-0002).
The concern of machine ethics and laws spills into the everyday workings of society, not just the domain of defense. Many concepts revolve around the law of armed conflict, societal law, ethical dilemmas, psychological concepts and artificially intelligent cyber systems, as well as their relationships among each other. In addition to the delineation of machine ethic guidelines, an ethical life cycle is necessary to account for changes over time in national circumstances and personal beliefs. Just recently, the Defense Innovation Board, which serves as an advisory board to the Pentagon, met and published ethical guidelines in designing and implementing artificially intelligent weapons.
A mushroom cloud explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945 forever changed the nature of warfare. Science had given birth to weapons so powerful they could end humanity. To survive, the United States had to develop new strategies and policies that responsibly limited nuclear weapon proliferation and use. Warfare is again changing as modern militaries integrate autonomous and semiautonomous weapon systems into their arsenals. The United States must act swiftly to maximize the potential of these new technologies or risk losing its dominance.
“There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think … it’s all about the information.” These lines are from the 1992 movie Sneakers, a film exploring the possibility of a decryption machine that could break any code, obliterating the ability to protect secrets. Nearly three decades later, the fictitious decoder still doesn’t exist, but the importance of data has grown exponentially.
The U.S. Navy still has its work cut out for it regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or robotic systems. Data and the ability to obtain data remains an impediment to the increased use of AI, as does the ability to verify that adversaries have not tampered with AI-related code, said experts speaking on a panel at AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute’s WEST 2020 conference in San Diego on March 3. Capt. George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.), director, Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC), Pacific, moderated the panel.
By 2030, artificial intelligence (AI) is projected to add $13 trillion to the global economic output. In government, AI applications promise to strengthen the federal workforce, safeguard our nation against bad actors, serve citizens more effectively and provide our warfighters the advantage on the battlefield. But this success will require collaboration and advancements from government and industry.
Before the end of the fiscal year, the U.S. Navy intends to deliver an early version of the Information Warfare Platform to two ships, the USS Lincoln and USS Bataan before fielding more comprehensive systems to the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group. The new capability will be enabled in part by artificial intelligence, machine learning and so-called digital twins. It is expected to offer the ability to acquire, test, install and field technologies at a faster, more affordable rate while also enhancing cybersecurity.