US Air Force Readies for GenAi Chat Tool

12 June 2024

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Image credit: US Air Force

As part of its ongoing modernization efforts, the U.S. Department of the Air Force (DAF) chief information officer, in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, is accelerating initiatives to provide Guardians, Airmen, civilian employees, and contractors the ability to responsibly experiment with Generative AI, with adequate safeguards in place.

DAF senior leaders are focused on maximizing competitive advantage, recognizing that Airmen and Guardians need advanced technologies at the speed of relevance. To that end, the DAF is launching NIPRGPT, an experimental bridge to leverage GenAI on the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network while continuing to explore maturing industry solutions.

“Our recent GenAI Roundtables with industry and academia have shown us this is an actively growing field,” said Venice Goodwine, DAF chief information officer. “Now is the time to give our Airmen and Guardians the flexibility to develop the necessary skills in parallel. There are multiple modernization efforts going on right now across the federal government and within the DAF to get tools in the hands of the workforce. This tool is another one of those efforts.”

NIPRGPT is part of the Dark Saber software platform developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate in Rome, New York. Dark Saber is an ecosystem of Airmen and Guardians from across the DAF that brings together innovators and developers and equips them to create next-generation software and operational capabilities deployable to the Force at a rapid pace.

At no additional cost to the unit or the users, NIPRGPT is an AI chatbot that allows users to have human-like conversations to complete various tasks. The CAC-enabled GenAI tool can answer questions and assist with tasks such as correspondence, background papers and code, all within a secure computing environment.

“Technology is learned by doing,” Chandra Donelson, the DAF’s acting chief data and artificial intelligence officer, said in a statement. “As our warfighters, who are closest to the problems, are learning the technology, we are leveraging their insights to inform future policy, acquisition and investment decisions."

The experiment is an opportunity to facilitate real-world testing, focusing on key metrics such as computational efficiency, resource utilization, security compliance, etc., to understand GenAI's practical applications and challenges and ensure that future implementation is effective and efficient. The platform includes user feedback opportunities to help develop governing policies and enable informed conversations with vendors as the DAF works to incorporate these tools into its operations.


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