Defense and federal leaders made their case for the artificial intelligence community in the D.C. region to help transform government at the Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit on May 11 at WeWork in Tysons, Va.
Officials from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. General Services Agency (GSA) both spoke at the event about the AI and machine learning outreach programs their agencies have launched in recent months.
Hava Siegelmann, the program manager for DARPA’s Lifelong Learning Machines, spoke about the potential for artificial intelligence systems to start learning like living organisms through experience. DARPA launched the Lifelong Learning Machines program to attract companies to advance research to eliminate the need to update data sets and instead have the AI systems mature organically.
“It’s one of the most exciting AI programs to come out of DARPA,” said John Kaufhold, founder of Deep Learning Analytics, an AI company based in Virginia. He attended the summit to learn more about the program.
Siegelmann and her DARPA team have issued opportunities for AI companies to get involved with the program through a Broad Area Announcement. Proposals for the BAA are due on June 21.
Justin “Doc” Herman, head of the Emerging Citizen Technology program office for GSA’s Technology Transformation Service, spoke about his push to introduce the potential of intelligent personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to federal agencies. He sees incredible potential for these new artificial intelligence systems to better inform the public about government programs and get them engaged through these technologies.
The first step is educating the federal agencies on the technology and the potential. The Emerging Citizen Technology program was launched to do just that. Herman designed it to be open source and allow the AI community to see the progress the government is making on the program’s GitHub post.
Pete Tseronis, former CTO for the Department of Energy, shared some of his experiences during the panel session urging AI companies in attendance to consider the government as a customer. Tseronis has since founded his own company, Dots and Bridges, and said too few companies see the opportunities for funding the government provides.
However, the government also needs to improve the ways in which it connects with communities in emerging technology fields as federal agencies struggled to modernize their digital infrastructures to support new technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. GSA and DARPA’s new programs hope to accomplish both.
Before the panel kicked off, three AI companies from the region spoke about the technologies they have developed, and how their companies started. The presentations also highlighted some of the major advancements the AI community in the greater Washington region has grown.
Axon AI, a company based in Harrisonburg, Va., kicked off the evening with COO Tom Brock presenting. A graduate of the Mach37 program, Axon AI utilizes machine learning systems for its swam intelligence products.
Wit Lingo’s founder Ahmed Bouzid also presented at the summit. Based in Virginia, Bouzid worked on the Amazon team that developed Alexa. He has since left Amazon and started Wit Lingo to develop products for the Alexa system.
Finally, DataRPM co-founder Sundeep Sanghavi, spoke about both his company and his entrepreneurial journey as the serial entrepreneur started DataRPM in Virginia and has since moved it to Silicon Valley.
Thank you to everyone who joined us at the event. We’re looking forward to more artificial intelligence events like this. And make sure to take a look at our next two events: investor tabletop networking events with a collection of the top investors in the region.
Also, thank you to our sponsors — WeWork and Avison Young. Without your support, the Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit would not have been possible.