Air Force Partners with MIT to Accelerate AI in 10 Project Areas

Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force

A new program that will strive to make “fundamental advances” in artificial intelligence is coming from the Air Force and MIT, the two organizations announced on May 20.

The “MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator” will support at least 10 MIT research projects in areas like disaster relief, medical readiness, data management, maintenance and logistics, vehicle safety and cyber resiliency. Project teams will be made up of MIT faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the Air Force. The Air Force plans to invest around $15 million per year in the collaboration.

“MIT is the leading institution for AI research, education, and application, making this a huge opportunity for the Air Force as we deepen and expand our scientific and technical enterprise,” Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force, said in a statement. “Drawing from one of the best of American research universities is vital.”

“This collaboration is very much in line with MIT’s core value of service to the nation,” Maria Zuber, the school’s vice president for research and the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, said. “MIT researchers who choose to participate will bring state-of-the-art expertise in AI to advance Air Force mission areas and help train Air Force personnel in applications of AI.”

The accelerator is just the latest thread in the Air Force’s — and Department of Defense’s — interest in artificial intelligence.

In June 2018 the DOD launched its Joint AI Center (JAIC), with the goal of exploring and developing the defense agency’s use of the “profoundly significant” technology that is artificial intelligence. Among its various goals, JAIC aims to increase the DOD’s collaboration with academia and the private sector.

The Air Force also runs another kind of accelerator — a focused, short-term program for up and coming tech startups — in partnership with TechStars in Boston. The program introduced its 2019 cohort in February.

The effort, known as the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator, will leverage the expertise and resources of MIT and the Air Force to conduct fundamental research directed at enabling rapid prototyping, scaling, and application of AI algorithms and systems. The Air Force plans to invest approximately $15 million per year as it builds upon its five-decade relationship with MIT.

The AI Accelerator can include faculty, staff, and students in all five MIT schools, and will be a component of the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, opening this fall. The college will take a strongly interdisciplinary approach to computing, and focus on the societal implications of computing and AI. The MIT-Air Force program will be housed in MIT’s Beaver Works facility, an innovation center located in the Technology Square block of Kendall Square. MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development center, will make available its specialized facilities and resources to support Air Force mission requirements.

Read the source article at fedscoop.