While artificial intelligence (AI) technology development remains in its youthful stages, industry and government professionals expect the Federal government’s strongest push toward AI to come from military and intelligence agencies, with hybrid cloud infrastructure as an important enabler to development efforts.

Those are some of the top-line takeaways from a survey of 71 government and industry executives and IT decision makers who attended the AI World Government event in June. The survey, conducted by MeriTalk and underwritten by Pure Storage, found that many respondents believe the U.S. military (44 percent) and intelligence agencies (33 percent) will lead the way in Federal development and deployment of AI.

On the tech front, 66 percent said hybrid cloud infrastructure is either a “primary driver” or “important enabler” for AI adoption. And 35 percent reported they have expanded their own hybrid cloud adoption in direct support of AI.

But there’s still a long way to go in AI development. The survey reveals a lengthy list of tech, policy, and workforce developments needed to kick development into high gear. Among those:

Technology: 60 percent see a need for increased agility and scalability, with 40 percent wanting increased automation, and 41 percent the ability to seamlessly migrate to new generations of technology.

Data: Most (59 percent) want improved data governance policies, 46 percent see a need for data-centric architecture, and 41 percent flag better consistency in data formats and tagging.

Workforce: Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) want more training for current workforce in data science and AI, 42 percent want more AI-specific subject matter experts on staff, and 42 percent desire more formal processes and methods to guide AI implementation.

Growth in AI tech development may also need a jump-start form the ranks of top management, survey respondents indicated. More than half (59 percent) said they want greater senior management-driven strategic vision around AI, with 46 percent looking for a shift in culture to value data across functions, and 44 percent seeing a need for greater commitment to data-driven decision making.

How soon until AI tech development takes its great leap forward? It’s hard to say, but most survey respondents reckoned the current state of development is somewhere between baby steps and old age. They also see the technology as being more about the “I” – developing sophisticated aspects of intelligence from the data (59 percent), than the “A” – using robotic process automation etc. to process data more quickly (41 percent).

The vast majority (89 percent) however, envisioned fast growth by saying that AI will be ready for top mission-critical tasks within five years.

Most survey respondents, not surprisingly given their attendance at the AI World Government event, are already immersed in development of the technology. 61 percent said they are working on AI currently, and another 14 percent expect to be doing so in the next year.

Pure Storage provides the data-centric architecture that helps government agencies implement AI faster and more successfully. Click here to view the full infographic and learn how your agency can design the best possible foundation for AI.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.