The Pentagon doesn’t know how much it is spending on AI
“Before the Pentagon can hold artificial intelligence accountable, it will have to find it. Auditing the Department of Defense is a daunting task to begin with, and trying to figure out within that budget the full scale of existing spending on AI likely requires the audit as a prerequisite. At an Oct. 3 roundtable with Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist, defense officials discussed the massive scope of even finding all the AI programs in order to form a budget.
Cloud computing, which is to say the process of storing information used in one locating in servers in a different location and then accessing that information or software remotely sometimes, is a common ingredient of AI. Something like a customer service chatbot can work really well when run through the cloud, as machine learning algorithms train on the asked questions and iterate better answers, but the cloud itself is neither necessary nor inevitable to make functioning AI possible.
Shanahan mentioned the difference in how AI is defined in apps, where it might just describe a chatbot with machine learning, and the more elusive ‘real artificial intelligence,’ a term used by the Pentagon since at least 1983 to describe performing tasks with little human intervention, even autonomously. Between the extremes is where most AI efforts fall, as some form of learning software that takes raw inputs from sensors and modifies it in some way to make the tasks of the human processing this information easier. Except for a few obvious parts of the budget, like the dedication Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, extracting the AI from the audit will mean getting into the weeds of every software acquisition and the ways in which that software modifies itself based on changing information.”