In February of this year, President Trump signed an executive order promoting Artificial Intelligence. This order was meant to spur interest, development and regulation of AI. It’s true that the United States is a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), but this is mostly because of companies in the U.S., especially the large tech companies that are AI forward.
That’s not to say though that the U.S. Federal Government does not see the strategic advantage AI can offer. As a result, many leaders and influencers are continuing to invest in AI and move the industry forward. Cognilytica, AI-focused research and advisory firm located in Ellicott City, MD recently shared some of the key people in the U.S. Federal Government working to move the adoption of AI forward across government.
AI Leaders in Defense
Defense and intelligence have long been a leader when it comes to AI. The Department of Defense (DoD) recently launched the Joint AI Center (JAIC) with a mission to transform the DoD by accelerating the delivery and adoption of AI to achieve mission impact at scale. This center is meant to provide expertise to help the DOD harness the game-changing power of AI. A few people listed who are influential in helping continue drive AI investment and technologies forward in the DOD are LTG Jack Shanahan who is the JAIC Director. In this role, General Shanahan is responsible for accelerating the delivery of AI-enabled capabilities, scaling the department-wide impact of AI and synchronizing AI activities to expand joint force advantages.
Captain Michael Kanaan is Co-Chair for Artificial Intelligence at the U.S. Air Force. In this capacity, he is tasked with authoring artificial intelligence strategies, guiding integration plans, and synchronizing efforts across the Air Force.
Colonel Jen Sovada has had an impressive career with the U.S.. Air Force. In her current role as Chief of Talent Management for Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance she is leading a revolutionary cultural and process change for approximately 35K Airmen ranging from Officers, Enlisted and Civilians. She is helping transform a large workforce to digital age frameworks and AI is playing a large part in this.
Just a few military leaders are listed here. For a more complete list, please check out the influencer list.
Civilian Agencies Charging Ahead with AI
Civilian agencies have also been embracing AI technologies for a variety of use cases ranging from cognitive automation, AI-powered chatbots, and more. Keith Nakasone Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Acquisition, Office IT Category at GSA is helping the agency incorporate emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, within the IT Category Portfolio. He also sees how important AI and cognitive technologies will be and is helping guide the GSA to leveraging AI within the Acquisition Process as well as focus on reskilling and upskilling the acquisition workforce.
Lynne Parker is the Assistant Director for Artificial Intelligence at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She is detailing to OSTP from her position as Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). A long-time pioneer in the field of robotics she has done extensive research in multi-robot systems, sensor networks, machine learning, and human-robot interaction.
Mitchell Winans, Special Assistant in the Office of Procurement at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has been helping lead an effort in procurement to bring RPA and cognitive automation into various internal processes. This work is helping to modernize the acquisition workforce and help shift focus to higher-value work.
Suzette Kent is the Federal Chief Information Officer at U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Kent is responsible for setting federal IT policy and developing policies for federal agencies regarding AI. She is at the forefront of helping federal agencies modernize their infrastructure, empower their workforce and transform service delivery for citizens.
Tim Persons who is Chief Scientist and Managing Director at the GAO believes AI will have a transformative impact on government. He leads a team that conducts technology assessments, provides oversight of federal science and technology programs, and offers technical assistance to the Congress. “Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges and Implications” is one of their notable reports.
The more you dig into the use of AI in the federal government the more you see that people are being thoughtful about how they approach and use this technology. AI technologies can transform and influence the lives of many citizens. Not only will AI transform the way we work, interact with each other and travel between locations, but it also has an impact on weapons technology, modern warfare, and a country's cybersecurity. AI can also have a dramatic impact on the labor market, disrupting entire industries and creating completely new ones. As such, having a focus on government-wide focus on AI can also help strengthen that country's economy, shift global leadership and power, and give military advantages. We're impressed with the leaders on this list, and their mission-driven focus while adopting AI technologies at all levels of government from policymakers to agency leaders to influencers in the weeds helping implement various cognitive technologies.
Kathleen Walch, columnist, is Co-Founder, Senior Analyst at Cognilytica. Kathleen is a serial entrepreneur, savvy marketer, AI and Machine Learning expert, and tech industry connector. She is a senior analyst and founder of Cognilytica, an AI research and advisory firm, and co-host of the popular AI Today podcast.
Prior to her work at Cognilytica, Kathleen founded tech startup-up HourlyBee, an online scheduling system for home services where she quickly became an expert in grassroots marketing, networking, and employee management. Before that, Kathleen was a key part of the direct marketing operation for Harte Hanks managing large scale direct mail campaigns for clients including Bed Bath and Beyond and BuyBuyBaby. Managing mailings with millions of records each month, she created efficiencies in the process saving thousands of dollars and days of processing time from each campaign. Kathleen then spent many years as the Content and Innovation Director for TechBreakfast, the largest monthly morning tech meetup in the nation with over 50,000 members and 3000+ attendees at the monthly events across the US including Baltimore, DC, NY, Boston, Austin, Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, Raleigh and more. In addition she is a SXSW Innovation Awards Judge and AI / Hardware Meetup organizer.
As a master facilitator and connector, who is well connected in the technology industry, Kathleen
regularly meets with innovators in key markets and gets the opportunity to see the latest and newest technologies from game changing companies.
Kathleen graduated from Loyola University with a degree in Marketing. In her spare time she enjoys hanging out with her husband and two young girls and working out – you can frequently find her on jogging paths and workout studios.