Commerce Department Appoints Experts to AI Advisory Committee: Last week, the Commerce Department named 27 experts to the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee. The NAIAC, established by the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, is meant to advise the president and the National AI Initiative Office, provide recommendations and advice related to U.S. AI competitiveness, the state of AI research, AI ethics and bias, the makeup of the AI workforce and more, and offer feedback on the implementation of the National AI Initiative. The 27 appointed members of the NAIAC include Miriam Vogel of EqualAI, who will chair the committee, James Manyika of Google, who will serve as vice chair, and a number of experts with academic, business, and advocacy backgrounds — among them Anthropic co-founder Jack Clark, a non-resident research fellow at CSET. The NAIAC is set to hold its first meeting on May 4 and will soon establish a subcommittee on AI and law enforcement, as mandated by the National AI Initiative Act.
United States Sends Air and Sea Drones to Ukraine: Last week, President Biden announced an additional $800 million military assistance package for Ukraine, which includes 300 Switchblade drones and an unspecified number of “unmanned coastal defense vessels.” The Switchblade is a loitering munition that comes in two models — the 300, which is small enough to fit in a rucksack and is used for targeting personnel, and the larger 600, which carries an anti-armor warhead. Both Switchblade models possess some autonomous capabilities, but experts say they likely don’t qualify as lethal autonomous weapons systems because they still require significant human input to target and engage enemies. The newest assistance package appears to be the biggest Switchblade shipment yet — a March package included 100 of the drones (both varieties) and an early April package added more. DOD Press Secretary John Kirby was tight-lipped when pressed for details about the “unmanned coastal defense vessels” also included in the newest package. He confirmed that the vessels would be coming from the U.S. Navy, but did not say whether the ships were armed or intended for non-combat roles.
GAO Reports on DOD and Navy AI Plans — Plus the Future of the JAIC: Two recent reports from the Government Accountability Office raised concerns about AI-related DOD and Navy plans and offered recommendations to improve their implementation:
The report on the DOD, released late last month, said the Pentagon’s AI-related strategies, including its 2018 AI Strategy, could be more comprehensive and proposed ways to improve future strategies and their implementation. The seven recommendations include developing a high-level roadmap that captures the department’s AI portfolio, establishing procedures and timelines for review of the DOD AI strategy, and establishing common terminology for AI activities. In a response to the GAO, the DOD concurred with all of the report’s recommendations.
The report on the Navy, meanwhile, found that the branch’s plans to spend $4.3 billion on 21 uncrewed vessels “does not account for the full costs to develop and operate these systems.” The report offered seven recommendations to improve its approach, including: completing a full estimate of the cost of developing and operating the systems, developing clear evaluation criteria for prototypes, and creating an entity in charge of overseeing the Navy’s uncrewed maritime systems portfolio. In its response, the Navy concurred with all of the report’s recommendations, but the GAO noted that the branch’s planned actions “do not fully address three of them.”
Marine Corps Modernization Plan Gets Pushback: A coalition of prominent retired generals has reportedly mobilized to quash the planned transformation of the Marine Corps. According to Politico’s Paul McLeary and Lee Hudson, the group — which includes former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford (both retired Marine Corps four-star generals), and every living former commandant — has taken issue with the service branch’s Force Design 2030 plan. The plan, which builds on recommendations from the 2018 National Defense Strategy, calls for the Corps to retire some of its tanks and helicopters and embrace newer technologies, including unmanned air and ground systems. Its critics have argued in a series of opinionpieces that the pivot is too drastic and would damage the Corps’ capacity for combined-arms flexibility. So far, the Marine Corps’ leadership has stood behind the modernization project, but it remains to be seen how the 2022 National Defense Strategy will impact the plan, if at all.
In Translation CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
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On April 14, CSET’s webinar Securing Tomorrow’s AI Workforce featured a conversation between CSET Research Fellow Diana Gehlhaus, Brookings Senior Fellow Nicol Turner Lee, New America Senior Analyst Shalin Jyotishi and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Chief Artificial Intelligence Architect and Applied Information Sciences Branch Head John Piorkowski, who discussed the steps the United States should take to ensure a robust AI and AI-literate workforce in the future.
The PIE News: To round out the hat trick, Maureen Manning covered the brief for the international education publication, The PIE News.
NPR: Research Fellow Katerina Sedova appeared on a recent episode of 1A, joining Peter Singer, Dustin Volz and host Jenn White, during which she discussed AI, disinformation, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Vox: Deputy Director of Analysis and Research Fellow Margarita Konaev delved into the impact of U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine with Vox’s Ellen Ioanes.
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