While the Defense Department (DoD) has been working hard on developing AI capabilities – and has run into challenges that DoD usually faces when acquiring new technologies – a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says it’s too soon to assess effectiveness of the overall effort.

GAO conducted the review in accordance with Senate Report 116-236, which includes a provision for the watchdog agency to review DoD’s AI warfighting acquisition-related efforts. The report aims to examine the nature of DoD’s AI work, current status of AI capabilities that support weapon systems, and how DoD is addressing challenges in adopting AI.

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According to GAO, most AI capabilities meant to support DoD missions are still in development. They largely focus on analyzing intelligence, enhancing weapon system platforms, and providing recommendations on the battlefield.

“When acquiring new capabilities that depend on complex software, DOD has historically faced challenges, such as long acquisition processes and a shortage of skilled workers,” the report said. “GAO found that it continues to face these challenges along with others specific to AI, including having usable data available to train the AI.”

Additionally, GAO said that DoD faces challenges integrating trained AI into existing weapon systems that weren’t designed for it, and building trust in AI among personnel.

“DOD initiated a variety of efforts—such as establishing a cross-service digital platform for AI and AI-specific trainings—to address these challenges and support its pursuit of AI, but it is too soon to assess effectiveness,” GAO said.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.