Pentagon launches new task force to map future of generative AI

Defense officials say the organization aims to make sure DoD takes a coordinated, responsible approach to adopting generative AI for military applications.

The Pentagon wants to start taking advantage of recent advances in generative artificial intelligence. But to embrace it responsibly, officials think they first need to take a deep dive into the specific use cases and implications of inserting the rapidly-evolving technology into defense applications.

The people in charge of that effort will be a new task force, which the Defense Department announced Thursday. Dubbed “Task Force Lima,” the group will keep tabs on generative AI implementation across the military services and Defense agencies, and also develop and recommend capabilities of its own, officials said.

“The establishment of Task Force Lima underlines the Department of Defense’s unwavering commitment to leading the charge in AI innovation,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said in a statement. “As we navigate the transformative power of generative AI, our focus remains steadfast on ensuring national security, minimizing risks and responsibly integrating these technologies. The future of defense is not just about adopting cutting-edge technologies, but doing so with foresight, responsibility and a deep understanding of the broader implications for our nation.”

The Pentagon announcement did not specify an end date for the task force’s work. The new group will operate out of DoD’s existing Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO), and will be led by Capt. Xavier Lugo, a member of the CDAO’s algorithmic warfare directorate.

The rest of the task force will be made up of senior officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense — “principal staff assistants” — along with representatives from the Joint Staff, Defense agencies and the military services, according to a CDAO blog post published Thursday. Officials said they also planned to consult subject matter experts from industry and academia.

The task force, however, is far from DoD’s first foray into generative AI — a family of technologies that aims to create new content by training algorithms on massive data sets. U.S. Northern Command, for example, has been experimenting with the technology as part of its annual Global Information Dominance Exercises. And just this week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a new competition to use generative AI to find and fix vulnerabilities in software.

But the department as a whole needs a more integrated and coherent approach to its adoption of the technology, Lugo said.

“The services and combatant commands are actively seeking to leverage the benefits and manage the risks of generative AI capabilities and large language models across multiple mission areas, including intelligence, operational planning, programmatic and business processes,” he said. “By prioritizing efforts, reducing duplication and providing enabling AI scaffolding, Task Force Lima will be able to shape the effective and responsible implementation of LLMs throughout the DoD.”

To help figure out some of the existing and potential uses of generative AI and how to conduct that shaping, the task force has already begun asking DoD components to let them know about their use cases via a dedicated web portal.

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