Maven is designed to be that pilot project, that pathfinder, that spark that kindles the flame front of artificial intelligence across the rest of the [Defense] Department.
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, November 2017
For years, the Defense Department’s most senior leadership has lamented the fact that US military and spy agencies, where artificial intelligence (AI) technology is concerned, lag far behind state-of-the-art commercial technology. Though US companies and universities lead the world in advanced AI research and commercialization, the US military still performs many activities in a style that would be familiar to the military of World War II.
As of this month, however, that has begun to change. Project Maven is a crash Defense Department program that was designed to deliver AI technologies—specifically, technologies that involve deep learning neural networks—to an active combat theater within six months from when the project received funding. Most defense acquisition programs take years or even decades to reach the battlefield, but technologies developed through Project Maven have already been successfully deployed in the fight against ISIS. Despite their rapid development and deployment, these technologies are getting strong praise from their military intelligence users. For the US national security community, Project Maven’s frankly incredible success foreshadows enormous opportunities ahead—as well as enormous organizational, ethical, and strategic challenges.
Read the full commentary in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
More from CNAS
CommentaryA Solid Plan to Compete with China in Artificial Intelligence
This report is about more than AI....
By Megan Lamberth & Martijn Rasser
ReportsAI and International Stability: Risks and Confidence-Building Measures
Exploring the potential use of confidence-building measures built around the shared interests that all countries have in preventing inadvertent war....
By Michael Horowitz & Paul Scharre
CommentaryLandmark artificial intelligence legislation should become law
AI will touch every sector — from agriculture to healthcare, to transportation to national security....
By Tony Samp
CommentaryAI Ethical Principles: Implementing the U.S. Military’s Framework
Over the last two years, the DoD has taken a number of steps to lay the groundwork for AI adoption....
By Megan Lamberth