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IWP alumnus helps lead international AI partnership between 13 countries

Mark Beall at IWP Commencement
Above: Mark Beall at IWP Commencement in 2009.

Mark Beall (IWP Class of 2009) is currently serving as head of strategic engagement and policy at the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). JAIC recently brought together a coalition of 13 countries to discuss ethics and artificial intelligence (AI) in the military. JAIC hosted an international virtual forum, calling it the AI Partnership for Defense, in hopes that it will form broad principles and policy for technical cooperation on data and algorithms.

In a podcast with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Mr. Beall discussed the partnership and its importance in building an AI-ready workforce. Three core objectives were used in establishing the partnership: leadership adopting new technology that is consistent with shared values, designing a system with allies in mind, and learning from each other. A long-term goal for this coalition is a massive international military-relevant data set. Allies would be able to curate a set of data that they are comfortable sharing, using common labels, and put it into an infrastructure that developers can have full access to. Mr. Beall noted that the first steps in interoperability would be aligning strategy and policy, mainly in ethics, and having a common understanding of terms.

Mr. Beall acknowledged that AI and emerging technology will be core pillars in future international strength. By having this coalition in place, it encourages participating countries to develop and implement an agreed-upon set of ethical standards and practices for AI. Participating countries include Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway, Estonia, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Finland, and Sweden. Mr. Beall noted that he does not expect China or Russia to join the AI Partnership for Defense in the near future but emphasized the goal to be as inclusive as possible.

The AI Partnership for Defense is a new, unfamiliar construct. Mr. Beall and JAIC had a goal to keep it very informal and to leave politics behind to ensure a true collaborative experience between nations. There is still a significant amount of work and trust that needs to take place in order to reach the level of data sharing JAIC is aiming for, but this partnership is a step in the right direction. JAIC is aiming to have the coalition meet three times a year and hopes to expand from 13 nations to 40-50 nations total.

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