In the Information Age, newly named director of the Defense Department’s (DoD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) Lt. Gen. Michael Groen wants to make sure that the U.S. warfighter is prepared to take on challenges and be equipped with the technology to do so.

Speaking during a Center for Strategic and International Studies online event today, Groen compared the new Information Age with the Industrial Age during World War I and how warfighters were still using lances and riding horseback to fight, despite having the access to new artifacts that could help them fight.

“You watch these World War I documentaries, and you see like, in the early months – a year or so of the war – you see these guys riding into battle on horseback with long sticks with iron spikes on the end, Lancers, right?” Groen said. “And so, you think, how in the world could this be? Right? These guys were citizens of the Industrial Age, right? They knew all the artifacts of the Industrial Age, they were familiar with this, right?”

He explained that the despite the “artifacts of the age” being plentiful, the implications of industrial warfare just weren’t clear. Groen’s number one priority, he says, is not “put U.S. forces in a really bad way” by not having “lancers riding into machine guns or the Information Age equivalent of that.”

“This transformation or this transition that we are in – who knows exactly where we are in the point of this technological curve – but [we’re] entering an information warfare environment. It’s an Information Age, we are surrounded by the artifacts of the Information Age, we’re familiar with them, we use them every day, and we’re using them right now,” Groen said during the event. “But I don’t know that we’ve really thought through the implications of the Information Age on warfare, and what that actually means. A lot of people are thinking about it, a lot of people are talking about it.”

Going forward, Groen wants JAIC to address transformation, while also leaning into being agile as an organization. Groen says it’s time to start making decisions using data.

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