More than 1,200 attendees gathered online March 23–25 for the Naval Applications for Machine Learning (NAML) workshop hosted by Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific and the San Diego chapter of AFCEA International.
The online platform supported keynote speakers, poster and demo sessions, panels, and a virtual gathering area for attendees to network which mimicked benefits of the typically in-person conference.
Opening remarks from Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) Commanding Officer Rear Adm. Douglas Small welcomed attendees and recruited their help in collaborating on naval applications for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). “It’s an opportunity to learn from each other, accelerate our efforts together, and especially to deliver war-winning technology to our Sailors and Marines,” said Small.
Small was explicit about his intent for the partnerships fostered by events such as the NAML workshop. Specifically, he highlighted Project Overmatch, the Navy’s effort to develop a tactical data network to connect assets, weapons and sensors across the battlefield. Project Overmatch is a platform for delivery of tools and analytics to the fleet, some of which incorporate AI.
“What we’re in the midst of doing is defining the platform for delivery of AI tools — your wares — to the edge,” said Small. “How do we get these things into the user’s hands, our Sailors and Marines at the edge? That’s what I’m going to ask for your help with. So bring your ideas to this conference, collaborate, learn from each other, and especially, figure out how to accelerate our tools to the Sailors and Marines.”
In her welcome remarks, Dr. Katie Rainey, NAML general chair and NIWC Pacific scientist, asked, “What does it mean to bring machine learning to DoD initiatives? What can we do today — and what is possible in the next year or the next decade? What do we need to do to get to our vision of the future? The presentations and discussions at NAML begin to answer these questions.”
Discussion topics included ML in operational environments, radio frequency ML, reinforcement learning, physical phenomena modeling, and more. During a keynote session on the strategic, operational and technical landscape for the U.S. military in 2021 by George Galdorisi, a NIWC Pacific scientist, attendees learned about the current state of information warfighting capabilities. Galdorisi also offered perspective on how ML applications could play a crucial role in maintaining information dominance globally.
According to Rainey, one of the most successful parts of the virtual conference was the poster sessions, which enabled attendees to meet with presenters, see live demonstrations, and network with other attendees, enabling the collaboration and connections Small listed as priorities for the conference.
Small set his intentions early in the day March 23 by reminding attendees of China’s intention to dominate the information warfare domain by the end of the decade. “We think we have about a one-year advantage on them, but that gap is closing rapidly for a host of reasons,” Small said. “It is incumbent on us to make sure that that gap never closes.”
Conferences such as the NAML workshop are a key piece in collecting the best minds from across the intelligence community to solicit war-winning solutions for the fleet. Through collaborative events, tech talks, and strategic partnerships, NIWC Pacific is using innovations in ML and AI to keep the Navy on the cutting edge of information warfare.
As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Pacific’s mission is to conduct research, development, engineering, and support of integrated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, and space systems across all warfighting domains, and to rapidly prototype, conduct test and evaluation, and provide acquisition, installation, and in-service engineering support.