Carter to Create Chief Innovation Position

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is adopting three of the recommendations the Defense Innovation Board made to him earlier this month, he said Friday. Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C., Carter said he will create the position of chief innovation officer, target talented military and civilian computer scientists and software engineers for recruitment, and invest more broadly in machine learning, including through challenges based on a “virtual center of excellence” model. The new chief innovation officer will act as a senior advisor to the Secretary and spearhead innovation activities, including those recommended by the board during its first meeting. The recommendations included building software platforms and networks to enable DOD-wide innovation, hosting innovation contests, and providing training that promotes innovation. Carter said he tasked the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to pilot the challenge-based approach to advance machine learning by sponsoring a prize challenge because tech companies and academia have made strides in the area. “Going forward, I’m confident that the logic behind everything I’m talking about today will be self-evident to future defense leadership as will the value of these efforts. But they also need to have the momentum and institutional foundation to keep going under their own steam and to continue to thrive,” Carter said. Carter created the b?oard in March, and it held its first meeting in October, when it presented 11 interim recommendations, according to a Defense Department release. Carter did not say if he rejected the other recommendations or if he’s still considering them. The board is chaired by Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and includes 15 members.