Defense Secretary James Mattis Envies Silicon Valley’s AI Ascent

Defense Secretary James Mattis has a lot on his mind these days. North Korea, obviously. China’s expanding claims on the South China sea. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. And, closer to home, the Pentagon lagging behind the tech industry in leveraging artificial intelligence.

Mattis admitted to that concern Thursday during the Silicon Valley leg of a West Coast tour that includes visits to Amazon and Google. When WIRED asked Mattis if the US had ambitions to harness recent progress in AI for military purposes like those recently espoused by China, he said his department needed to do more with the technology.

“It’s got to be better integrated by the Department of Defense, because I see many of the greatest advances out here on the West Coast in private industry,” Mattis said.

Mattis, speaking in Mountain View, a stone’s throw from Google’s campus, hopes the tech industry will help the Pentagon catch up. He was visiting the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, an organization within the DoD started by his predecessor Ashton Carter in 2015 to make it easier for smaller…

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