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DIA to release new AI strategy

The Defense Intelligence Agency is finalizing its artificial intelligence strategy to control the use of technology for decision support and human-machine teaming when providing intelligence to warfighters and policymakers. Ramesh Menon, DIA’s chief technology officer and new chief artificial intelligence officer, established the AI strategy, which is expected to be announced this week.

When we create any strategy, it’s about truly understanding from a stakeholder perspective what is required? What are the gaps? Once you have a strategy, then you have to operate like the strategy. How do you do that? How do you create underlying for structure, the organizational design processes? Technology is changing at a very rapid pace,” Menon said during an interview for Federal Monthly Insights – AI/ML Systems. “We really are trying to figure out the best scenario for decisions support, decision augmentation and decision automation for human and machine teaming. And that will take a while and the underlying governance structure for it.”

To have a clear vision in creating the AI strategy, DIA assembled five pillars creating new capabilities, identifying gaps and highlighting where they’re having the most success in the agency using AI. The pillars consist of platforms, skills, tradecraft, mission priorities and partnerships. DIA is also looking at experimentation as part of how they want to bring the younger generation into the workforce so they can add into new capabilities.

“We need that underlying foundational capability. Like do we have the underlying digital platform to do this work? Do you have [machine learning operations]? Can I extract the data I get, create any AI model, use that model into an application and then deploy that application wherever it needs to be deployed? And that whole chain of automation is MLOps,” Menon said.

DIA’s goal is to collaborate with the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community to control new technologies interfering with decision-making from human intelligence. “Ultimately technology is to help human beings. We need to be controlling the technology, not the other way around,” Menon said.

Menon said his biggest challenge as CTO is going through the basic process of strategic investment and planning guidance when doing something new for the agency, such as building on the use artificial intelligence and quantum technologies.

“Technology, platforms, data and algorithms are the future. The platform-based business models are evolving, and we need to truly leverage our core capabilities, partner with our industry partners and allies to ensure we reduce duplication, and we share information that will give us strategic advantage or intelligence advantage,” Menon told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin.The underlying funding model is equally important. Getting a project funded is relatively easy. Creating a sustainable organizational capability needs a lot more thoughtful thinking and realigning what you have in terms of people, processes, and technology. As a technology leader, I want the U.S. government to lead and be ahead of these things and drive, shape and create underlying structures that will give us that strategic information advantage in the next decade or even further.”

Menon added the importance of culture and having an open mindset as new capabilities may be presented in the workforce.

“One of the underlying principles is having a group mindset be open minded. We are all here to do something good for the country. We have a mission at hand and we should be using all the available tools within the context and the framework of law to support the country. Human machine teaming, for augmenting human intelligence, is fairly well thought out and people are very open and supportive of that kind of concept,” Menon said.

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