Maintaining Our AI Advantage – Insights from Booz Allen’s CEO Horacio Rozanski at The Atlantic Festival

Oct 24, 2019 7:00 AM ET
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Is the U.S. winning the global artificial intelligence (AI) race? How can the military adapt to match the pace of technological innovation?

At the 2019 Atlantic Festival, Booz Allen CEO Horacio Rozanski and COO of BAE Systems, Tom Arseneault, sat down with journalist Jeanne Meserve to talk about operationalization, collaboration, training, ethics, and more in the field of AI. Highlights follow.

Accelerating AI’s move out of the lab

According to Rozanski, operationalizing AI is the critical next step to AI success—and this step cannot wait.

“There are a lot of things that are happening right now in the lab that are not going to get better until we field them,” he said.

This is due to the unique nature of AI technology. While traditional systems generally achieve a certain level of reliability in the lab before they’re tested in the field, training of AI algorithms must happen in the place the technology is going to operate, Rozanski explained. And this place is not the lab.

“We need to put AI into in the field so it can learn side by side with operators,” he said.

Including operators in the AI conversation

People executing the mission are also key to AI success, because they have to understand how it works and see that it helps them do their jobs better. The best algorithm is useless if it remains on the shelf.

“You want these things deployed in a way that a warfighter or an analyst is actually using them,” Rozanski said. If analysts have to go way out of their way and disrupt their workflows to use a new technology, they’re going to stay with the solutions they know.

“At Booz Allen, we try to pair our teams with people who really understand the mission on a deep level with the people who understand the technology,” he said. Success is achieved at this intersection.

In all areas, organizations must work together to cultivate the necessary workforce.

“We talk about this as a technology race with China. It’s a talent race with China,” Rozanski said. “The country with the best talent base, the most focused talent base on this topic is ultimately going to win this race.”

Watch the full panel discussion and learn more about AI at Booz Allen