The Defense Innovation Board Provides Insights Actionable By Government and Industry Technologists

The Defense Innovation Board (DIB) is an advisory board for DoD. This means it does not have command authority, but can offer food for thought and suggestions for consideration. But my view is the ideas and suggestions the DIB is making are so compelling that everyone in DoD should pay attention and take action on before being told to. The same goes for the many in industry that serve DoD. This group provides great info of a quality to help drive your decisions.

DIB members are highly regarded professionals with backgrounds in innovation, entrepreneurship and technical leadership. Their goal: offer actionable insights that can be put in place quicker than the other many long term strategic advisory boards. The DIB is part of the larger emerging innovation ecosystem at DoD, working closely with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), the Defense Digital Service (DSS) and with the many existing innovation activities in the department.

The DIB explores many topics around modernity, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, software and IT infrastructure.

The board operates in a very open way, including providing advanced notice of agendas and video of key meetings (the video of the 11 July 2018 meeting is online here).

The video is worth watching by anyone in a leadership position in DoD or in the industry that serves DoD, it provides fantastic context and situational awareness into topics of high interest to national security, including software development/modernization, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence.

The following summarizes context provided on quantum science and the newly formed JIAC:

Quantum Science in DoD

Dr. Michael Hayduk of the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) provided insights into some of the ways quantum science is being applied in the department today and some of the exciting quantum science developments coming soon. This is a disruptive area of study which encompasses far more than just quantum computing. Hayduk reviewed major areas of quantum interest for DoD, including Timing, Sensing, Communications and Computing. After an overview of some key activities related to quantum science he then discussed some major moves the government is about to make, including a possible national quantum initiative.

Board reaction to the presentation included insights on what is going to happen when you have enough qubits to implement Shor's algorithm, which would undercut much of the security that is used in key exchange. This means very soon the department will need to modernize encryption and cryptographic systems. The department will also need to think through what might happen when all the encrypted data adversaries have been storing suddenly becomes readable to them.

Quantum resistant key exchanges are available and work and DoD should be moving to that soonest.

Artificial Intelligence in DoD

Brendon McCord, head of machine learning at DIUx, provided an overview of his work on AI and the Joint AI Center (JAIC). Keep in mind that Brendon was presenting to a group that is without a doubt some of the greatest experts in artificial intelligence in the business world. Must have been quite intimidating. But if he was intimidated he sure didn't let it show, he delivered a fact based discussion that was well received by the board. Brendon underscored that structurally AI can be an enabling layer across nearly everything in the department. He provided four themes for The Joint AI Center: 1) helping prioritize acceleration of results in AI, ensuring AI is implemented in usable ways for end users. 2) Helping evolve partnerships with industry, academia, allies, partners. 3) Attracting and cultivating talent and considering the many aspects of talent that needs to be considered, including ethics. 4) The connection to national defense strategy and linkage to the military role of keeping the peace, deter war and protect the values that came out of the enlightenment.

I can only imagine the feeling Brendon must have had when Eric Schmidt, a real champion of AI, congratulated him on the standup of JIAC. Schmidt's effusive praise underscored for me that this is real progress.


For more watch the full video for deeper context into the Defense Innovation Board and their activities at the DIB meetings page.

And if you have not done so already, check out the CTOvision portal into AI, and be sure to sign up for the CTOvision Weekly Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Analytics Newsletter.



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Bob Gourley

Founder and CTO at Crucial Point LLC
Bob Gourley is the founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC where he leads technology due diligence consulting. He is the publisher of and Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley
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