Hyper-intelligence machines have permeated every layer of modern society — from smartphones to self-driving cars.
Silicon Valley continues to pour billions of dollars into efforts to keep pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence. So it might come as a surprise that in the military and intelligence agencies, the technology is not moving as fast as it could. Even as their needs for data analysis continue to grow, the U.S. military and intelligence communities are not harnessing machine learning technology to its full potential, says Brian Wilson, senior vice president of Zenoss, an information technology company that does business in both the commercial and government sectors.
“It’s a common thread I’m seeing,” Wilson says in an interview. “There has been continued advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning for analyzing big data. Palantir [a Silicon Valley company] is an absolute leader in that space.” The government has been slow to tap into the commercial revolution and take that technology to a lower price point, he says. “Today’s problem boils down to ‘What do I do with data? How do I interpret it? How do I analyze it? How do I draw knowledge out of information?’” Wilson adds. “I would say that is still a problem area where the intelligence community will need help from commercial vendors.
” The potential is obvious in the defense and security fields. Border patrol and homeland security agencies use facial recognition but they need better capabilities to interpret data. “Can you get down to the point that you can infer emotions in images? Can I start to predict what actions might occur so I can be proactive based on the posture of a particular person? This would require deep machine learning and artificial intelligence. It has to happen in real time,” Wilson says.
The data exists to make new applications possible, he says. “It’s a matter of merging data from scattered databases around the world.” Outside advisers have urged the Defense Department to become more aggressive in the use of artificial intelligence not only to increase its capabilities but also to save money. Many labor-intensive functions that today demand a large workforce would be performed by computers, suggested the Defense Innovation Board. The 20-member panel of tech industry and government officials, established in April by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, last month offered a new set of recommendations, one of which is to “catalyze innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
” The board characterized artificial intelligence and machine learning as “important, defining technologies.” The military “needs to use massive amounts of data rapidly. Autonomous vehicles use massive amounts of data.