Pentagon’s first chief AI officer leaves after two years – CIO

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Strategic data initiatives

During Martell’s tenure, the CDAO created the foundation for AI-based defense systems, by establishing five strategic initiatives to enable AI use at the DOD in fiscal year 2023, according to the DOD. Among those five initiatives were improved data quality and business performance metrics, along with better digital employee management.

In addition, the CDAO began offering a new Digital On-Demand service in November to improve AI knowledge in the military. The new program provided access to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Horizon’s library of learning resources to all members of the DOD military and civilian workforce.

The MIT Horizon online platform offers short training modules on AI and other emerging technologies, including 5G, edge computing, and big data analytics.

Martell’s relatively short time on the job shouldn’t raise red flags, said Avivah Litan, a distinguished vice president analyst covering AI at Gartner. “Two years on the job seems just about right for this new type of role, especially for an executive coming from dynamic leading private sector companies such as Lyft, Dropbox, and LinkedIn,” she said. 

The role of chief AI officer is still new: The US Department of Justice has just appointed its first CAIO. Organizations are trying to figure out what responsibilities the position should have, Litan said.

“Oftentimes, other executives in the organizations are not able to understand what the chief AI officer is actually accomplishing,” she said.  “Nonetheless, Craig Martell seems to have achieved a great deal in his short tenure at DoD and I am guessing that the large bureaucracy couldn’t keep up with him.”

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