Phantom Program tackles game-changing technology

  • Published
  • By SSgt Paolo Felicitas
  • 446th Airlift Wing

In the rapidly evolving landscape of military operations, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changing technology. This powerful tool has the potential to revolutionize how service members perform their duties, enhance efficiency, accuracy, and overall efficacy. However, with such power comes great responsibility to ensure ethical and responsible implementation.

The Air Force aims to leverage AI to its advantage while prioritizing ethical considerations and outlining plans for responsible AI usage.

“You don’t enforce laws against machines, you enforce them against people,” said Frank Kendall, Air Force Secretary.

Our challenge is not to limit what we can do with AI but to find how to hold people accountable for what the AI does. The way we should approach it is to figure out how to apply the laws of armed conflict to the applications of AI. Who do we hold responsible for the performance of that AI and what do we require institutions to do before we field these kinds of capabilities and use them operationally.”

To ensure responsible AI implementation, the Department of the Air Force signed a cooperative agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to jointly create an Artificial Intelligence Accelerator hosted at MIT. The AIA is comprised of individuals who conduct fundamental research to enable rapid prototyping, scaling, and the ethical application of AI algorithms and systems to advance both the DAF and society in general.

The DAF-MIT AIA offers a program called the Phantom Program which provides a comprehensive fellowship opportunity that enables individuals to gain valuable knowledge from leading experts in the field of AI. Those accepted to the highly selective program are referred to as “Phantoms” and will collaborate with the most distinguished AI researchers globally, working alongside both fellow Airmen and Guardians who oversee specific AI projects. This five-month course will expose Phantoms to cutting-edge AI research, real-world implementable solutions, customized AI training, and a distinctive career-enhancing experience.

“The Phantoms are the best at what they do, and we are proud to collaborate with them on front-line AI innovation,” said Capt. Ethan Sneider, DAF-MIT AIA Phantom program manager.

“This unique opportunity to further develop high-performing Air and Space Force professionals who come to us with a history of strong performance and passion for digital transformation and leave better prepared as future leaders and advocates of artificial intelligence.”

The Department of Defense continues to enhance an already robust regulatory and ethical framework to ensure the responsible use of AI in defense.

“The critical parameter on the battlefield is time,” Kendall said. “AI will be able to do much more complicated things much more accurately and much faster than human beings can.”

For additional details on the Phantom Program, to include how to apply, please visit the Phantom Program page here.