Technocrat | September 17, 2018: Escaping Tech’s ‘Valley of Death’

All eyes were on Hurricane Florence last week, as it threatened to pound the Carolina coasts. Both NASA and the NOAA released impressive images of the massive storm, captured by a fleet of weather satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station. For first responders on land, monitoring areas where Florence touched down was challenging. That’s when technology came to the rescue. A group of Purdue University researchers created an online platform to help first responders monitor social media posts for people in need of help.

Meanwhile, something else was brewing in Washington. The House Homeland Security Committee pushed forward a series of bills that would provide protections against unmanned aircraft. The legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to assess whether drones pose a threat to critical infrastructure.

Speaking of autonomous things, the DARPA is investing $2 billion in artificial intelligence research and development. DARPA hopes to maintain its technological advantage by outspending U.S.’s international rivals. The move comes just a few months after the Pentagon’s decision to launch a $1.7 billion Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC (pronounced “Jake”). Will this latest investment save innovations from the so-called “valley of death”—the gap between a product’s development and launch where companies perish—and translate into innovation on the battlefield? That’s still unclear.

BGOV’s Chris Cornillie takes a closer look at DARPA’s new initiative and Pentagon spending on AI-related projects in this week’s exclusive story.

DARPA has been quite busy. The defense agency also just awarded a contract to develop technologies that automatically locate and dismantle botnets before hackers can use them. Eventually DARPA wants to integrate the technologies into a single system that can spot, raid, and neutralize botnet-infected devices without any involvement from people. Sounds like it’s all headed in the same direction: no humans required.

Leaders from across the government are generally optimistic about what AI and automation can do for an overwhelmed federal workforce. But before AI can become a super helpful “co-worker” that handles time-consuming and labor-intensive work, a major reskilling of federal employees is needed to use the technology.

Keep reading … there’s more news where that came from.


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Get Smart

“We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognize new situations and environments and adapt to them.”

—Dr. Steven Walker, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Strategy & Leadership

GSA’s Kelly Olson Lays Out Priorities

Just weeks into her tenure as acting director of the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service, Kelly Olson has several projects she wants to tackle first. One such priority is sustaining federal IT modernization progress made in the past year, she said. Read more.

New Federal Cyber Leaders Named

The federal cybersecurity landscape is experiencing a shift in leaders who manage, oversee, and secure government networks, systems, and applications. Among them is Mark Kneidinger, who will join the new the National Risk Management Center as the deputy director. Read more.

Beyond Legacy

Campaign Finance Reporting May Get Update

It only took 15 years of trying, but the Senate may finally allow candidates to electronically file campaign spending reports. Lawmakers are working on reforming the current error-prone paper filing system that costs nearly $1 million to operate each year. Read more.

Debate Over Government’s ID Proofing Role Heats Up

In a post-Equifax-breach world, momentum is building around expanding the government’s role in validating and guaranteeing digital identities. However, federal legacy IT systems could become a huge roadblock preventing agencies from taking a lead role in the digital space. Read more.

Eye on Security

GAO Not Happy with Cyber Progress

A new Government Accountability Office report revealed that agencies implemented only a third of the actions needed to improve the government’s cybersecurity posture. Around the same time, the House passed four bills that address some of the very same issues as the GAO report. Read more.

DHS Wants Better Mobile Security

The Department of Homeland Security relies heavily on mobile devices, unlike many other government agencies. A top IT officer at DHS says the agency needs improved mobile security features, especially as hackers become more sophisticated. Read more.

In the Cloud

Cloud Services Market to Hit All-Time High

Cloud services contract obligations are expected to reach $6.5 billion in 2018, based on historical spending at this point in the fiscal year, according to BGOV analysis. Here’s a breakdown of which agencies are spending the most.

Intelligence Community Has Big Plans for IT Architecture

Simply moving to the cloud isn’t enough to keep pace with ever-increasing data and individual agency needs. That’s why the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is working with agencies on plans to implement a common reference architecture by May 2020. Read more.

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