The Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center recently launched new AI education pilots for thousands of DOD employees that range from executive education for general officers to in-depth coding bootcamps.
The most recent cohort of participants started taking an “AI 101” course in early February through a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while another recently entered an AI coding bootcamp. The range of educational offerings from the AI-accelerator is designed to eventually be transitioned to other DOD institutions for tens or even hundreds of thousands of people to learn about AI, Greg Allen, the JAIC’s head of policy and strategy, told FedScoop.
“We are running training pilots to really test,” Allen said. “We partner with the broader department of defense … to help them deliver education materiel at scale.”
Allen added that “ultimately there is going to be hundreds of thousands of folks” getting some form of AI training, out of the DOD’s nearly 3 million employees and service members.
The work stems from a congressional mandate for the JAIC to develop an AI workforce and education strategy in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The JAIC is now implementing that strategy through educational pilots, Allen said.
In that strategy, the JAIC identified six archetypes of AI learner: Lead AI, Drive AI, Create AI, Employ AI, Facilitate AI and Embed AI. Each type of DOD employee needs a different level of detail on AI, so the JAIC is leaning on different platforms to teach them.
For general and flag officers at the highest ranks of the military, Lead AI is an in-person seminar on the basics of what AI can do and how it will impact the capabilities they oversee. On the other end of the spectrum is Create AI, a group of coders that will be developing machine learning models for the military and need specialized training in developing machine learning models.
One of the adjustments the JAIC has made to its offerings for the Create AI category is a new coding bootcamp on the Python coding language that is often used to develop AI.
“These are folks who actually need all the skills to meet their current and future operational needs,” Allen said.
By 2023 the JAIC hopes to have all these lesson plans transitioned to other organizations, like the Defense Acquisition University or the Air Force’s Digital University.
“The No. 1 thing that brings the most joy to us is when we hear back from past participants … they put what they learned to practice in their jobs,” Allen said.