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Secretary of Defense Esper Calls on Private Sector to Join Forces with DoD in the Development of AI


On November 5, 2019, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivered remarks on the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Public Conference. In his remarks, Secretary Esper identified AI as a “core, critical” emerging technology for the Department of Defense (DoD), where the goal is “to get the war fighter into the cloud,” and help deliver battlefield data to troops more quickly and predict necessary equipment maintenance from afar, among other things. He also called on the private sector to work with DoD “to lead the world in responsible AI research and application,” emphasizing the need to develop principles for using AI in a lawful and ethical manner, consistent with the U.S.’s AI Strategy Plan, as we reported on here, and in a statement foreshadowing anticipated export controls on certain areas of AI, likely to be issued by the Department of the Commerce in proposed form by the end of the year, Secretary Esper admonished, “ [o]ur collective security must not be diminished by a short and narrow sighted focus on economic opportunity.”

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