The Department of Defense (DoD) published its Responsible Artificial Intelligence (RAI) Strategy and Implementation Pathway (S&I) today, providing a clear path forward for the Pentagon’s AI efforts.

The 47-page document will help the DoD to carry out its AI Ethical Principles – developed in February 2020 – through six foundational tenets: RAI governance; warfighter trust; AI product and acquisition lifecycle; requirements validation; responsible AI ecosystem; and AI workforce.

“The Responsible AI (RAI) Strategy and Implementation Pathway (S&I) illuminates our path forward by defining and communicating our framework for harnessing AI,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in the document’s foreword. “It helps to eliminate uncertainty and hesitancy – and enables us to move faster.”

“It directs the department’s strategic approach for operationalizing the DoD AI Ethical Principles and, more broadly, advancing RAI – all while ensuring operational agility, maintaining speed of capability deployment, providing scalability, and prioritizing the efficient allocation of resources,” she added.

The RAI S&I pathway outline goals for each of the six tenets. Some of these goals include modernizing governance structures and processes that allow for continuous oversight of the DoD’s use of AI; achieving a standard level of technological proficiency and familiarity for system operators to achieve justified confidence in AI; and using care in the AI product and acquisition lifecycle to ensure potential AI risks are considered from the start.

Additional goals include using the requirements validation process to ensure that AI capabilities are aligned with operational needs while addressing relevant AI risks; promoting a shared understanding of RAI design, development, deployment, and use; and ensuring that all DoD AI workforce members have an appropriate understanding of the technology.

The DoD said it hopes its leadership will encourage RAI development and use around the world and strengthen the United States’ abilities to solve problems with global allies and partners.

“Integrating ethics from the start also empowers the DoD to maintain the trust of our allies and coalition partners as we work alongside them to promote democratic norms and international standards,” Hicks said.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.