JAIC sees its data platform as key to driving AI innovation across DOD

The Joint Common Foundation is central to the 'JAIC 2.0' mission to enable the entire department to reach for AI fielding.
Michael Groen gives an address during the parade reception at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Guinto/Released)

The Department of Defense‘s artificial intelligence-enabled future rests on the ability for its AI hub to build out a data and algorithm development platform, military technology leaders said Tuesday.

The Joint AI Center is undergoing a major shift under its new director, focusing more on the warfighter and being an enabling force-multiplier for the disparate AI efforts across the services, instead of just delivering its own products. The JAIC’s data and development platform, the Joint Common Foundation (JCF), is central to that new goal,  the center’s new director, Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, said Tuesday during FedTalks 2020, presented by FedScoop.

DOD CIO Dana Deasy reiterated his commitment to having JAIC use the JCF to focus on the warfighter and build out new platforms for all in the DOD to use.

“JAIC could never do all of the AI initiatives for the DOD” alone, Deasy said. “At the core of JAIC’s success has got to be this JCF.”


The JCF will one day be the place military coders, data scientists and others across the department will go to build AI models and work with DOD data. The JAIC recently inked a deal with Deloitte to work on the integration of backend systems supporting the new platform. The JAIC’s new director also announced that the platform will be more than just for data storage but also host algorithm libraries to be able to share AI work across the department.

The process for developing the JCF platform will be gradual, Groen said. The JAIC is starting with basic services and minimum viable products that can be tested and then grown in their complexity. The JCF is being built to be “JEDI-ready,” engineers working on the platform said previously, referring to the still disputed Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract.

“You can’t have an AI-driven enterprise without a platform,” Groen said.

With the DOD’s need for sensitive data handling and security controls, the military needs its own platform to handle data. Security protocols will be built into the JCF to ensure that development takes place on trusted data, Groen said. The JCF will also have “soft services,” like ensuring users are aware of ethical principles and how to properly use AI for warfare. The platform will eventually be the one-stop-shop for AI in DOD, the general said.

“You can’t do any of that without a platform,” he said.

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