The Department of Defense (DOD) believes that artificial intelligence (AI) will transform warfare, and failure to adopt AI technology could hinder national security. DOD is making organizational changes and investing billions of dollars to incorporate AI technology.
A review by the Government Accountability Office has found that DOD’s AI-related strategies could be more comprehensive.
The 2018 Department of Defense (DOD) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy defines AI as the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. The strategy and associated plans include some, but not all, characteristics of a comprehensive strategy. For example, GAO found that DOD’s nine AI-related strategies and plans do not include full descriptions of resources and investments and risk associated with adoption of AI-enabled technologies. The watchdog says that issuing guidance to include all characteristics of a comprehensive strategy in future AI-related strategies could help DOD be better positioned to help managers ensure accountability and responsible use of AI.
DOD has begun to identify and report on its AI activities, GAO says in its March 30 report, but limitations exist in its AI baseline inventory, such as the exclusion of classified activities. DOD officials said these limitations will be addressed in subsequent phases of the AI inventory identification process. However, GAO notes that DOD has not yet developed a high-level plan or roadmap that captures all requirements and milestones.
The review found that DOD organizations collaborate on AI activities, but can more fully incorporate leading collaboration practices. DOD uses a variety of formal and informal collaborative mechanisms that GAO’s prior work has identified, such as interagency groups. GAO determined that DOD has partially incorporated leading collaboration practices, such as identifying leadership. However, DOD officials told the watchdog that they are in the process of developing guidance and agreements that clearly define the roles and responsibilities of DOD components that participate in AI activities.
GAO is making seven recommendations, including for DOD to issue guidance to include all characteristics of a comprehensive strategy; develop a high-level plan or roadmap for its AI inventory process; and finalize and issue guidance and agreements that define roles and responsibilities for AI collaboration. DOD concurred with all seven of these recommendations.