Emerging Technologies: Response to the Senate Armed Service Committee’s Questions for Dr Kathleen Hicks
The written statement released by Dr. Kathleen Hicks, provided a solid foundation with regards to the Biden Administration’s view on the importance and risk of emerging technologies on our military industrial base. The importance of this topic has seen recent acknowledgement with the Department of Defense (DoD) Industrial Capabilities Report which stressed “those advanced technologies themselves rely on a manufacturing complex whose capability and capacity will have to be trusted and secure to protect the Pentagon’s most vital supply chains.” In short, the Senate Armed Service Committee maintained the issue of emerging technologies as a central foundation for their line of questioning regarding the support and protection of domestic and international economic partnerships and supply chains for the DoD.
It remains a necessity for the DoD to have unfettered access to emerging technologies and research and development activities within the military industrial base and academia. Dr. Hicks has stressed that the DoD has recently established a number of programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Army’s recent Open Campus efforts that invest in research within academia and provide benefits to innovative small businesses and innovators. Moreover, she stressed within the international community “Science is an international enterprise and by forming research partnerships with like-minded countries the Department can amplify its own R&D work and be better poised in the global race for technological leadership.” This stresses the central focus surrounding innovation and science within the Biden Administration and the DoD to shift the industry to a position to deliver these innovations and emerging technologies to the warfighter and the industry as a whole. In order to provide a greater chance these new technologies are transitioned into active programs providing for the capability of the warfighter, Dr. Hicks enumerated that the department would be focused on improving its systems engineering expertise, employ robust prototyping, and demonstrations to properly display the capabilities of the emerging technologies. All of this to say, the DoD has been tasked with the goal of ending the stigmatizing system that leads to the ineffective transfer to emerging technologies through cooperation and innovation by protecting our supply lines and developing and supporting partnerships to provide increase leverage for the entire enterprise.
Secondly, Dr. Hicks stressed that the newly acquired Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) will receive the full support and attention of the DoD, with a special focus on accelerating the use of artificial intelligence into the activities of the DoD. As Deputy Secretary of Defense “[Dr. Kathleen Hicks] will ensure a regular schedule of interactions with the JAIC Director and JAIC leadership to ensure AI transformation is considered holistically and driven at the Department level, with the urgency and level of oversight demanded.” Along with the dynamic position JAIC will maintain under the Biden Administration, it also remains a fundamental goal for the DoD to develop proper metrics to conduct advanced analytics and to make necessary and proper decisions regarding the mission and activities of the department. Dr. Hicks stated that the potential issues surrounding the reporting arrangement will be redressed through “The Services, Combatant Commands, and other stakeholders have strong influence on AI development through the AI Executive Steering Group and its supporting committees.” In conclusion, the complex issues and benefits surrounding the effective use of emerging technologies will be a central focus for the occurring reforms at the DoD’s military industrial base for the past several years.