NewsBrief March 19, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: March 19, 2021

Pentagon needs AI at every leadership level, panel recommends

(FCW) The Defense Department needs to embrace artificial intelligence at every leadership level, according to Robert Work, vice chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and former deputy defense secretary. “We are shifting into an era of systems warfare,” Work testified during a joint hearing with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on cyber, innovative technologies and information systems and the House Oversight and Reform national security subcommittee on March 12. “Our adversaries explicitly say this and say the way we will defeat the U.S. military is to have better operational systems and the way to get there is to inject AI applications and autonomy into the systems.” Read More

Researchers enhance quantum machine learning algorithms

(ScienceDaily) A Florida State University professor’s research could help quantum computing fulfill its promise as a powerful computational tool. William Oates, the Cummins Inc. Professor in Mechanical Engineering and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, and postdoctoral researcher Guanglei Xu found a way to automatically infer parameters used in an important quantum Boltzmann machine algorithm for machine learning applications. Read More

Why machine learning struggles with causality

(TechTalks) When you look at the following short video sequence, you can make inferences about causal relations between different elements. For instance, you can see the bat and the baseball player’s arm moving in unison, but you also know that it is the player’s arm that is causing the bat’s movement and not the other way around. You also don’t need to be told that the bat is causing the sudden change in the ball’s direction. Likewise, you can think about counterfactuals, such as what would happen if the ball flew a bit higher and didn’t hit the bat. Read More

A Comprehensive Approach to Cyber Resilience

(MITSloan) It’s hard to imagine a more challenging year than 2020 for data security. The pandemic meant that millions of employees worldwide were suddenly working from home. More severe cyberthreats — some from highly sophisticated state actors — threatened company databases. And at a regional level, natural disasters disrupted operations and supply chains. To gauge how organizations responded to this perfect storm of cyberthreats, we interviewed 57 technology leaders during the second half of 2020, including CIOs, chief information security officers, chief data officers (CDOs), and other business leaders in public- and private-sector organizations. Read More

DoD plan will streamline contractor security clearance appeals

(Federal Times) Department of Defense contractors who believe that their security clearances were unfairly denied or revoked will soon all go to the same authority to get reviewed, under a DoD memo quietly issued in the last days of the Trump administration. The memo instructs all DoD components — including defense intelligence components such as the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office — to send all sensitive compartment information clearance final appeals to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals. Read More

Army working on new cyber, electromagnetic weapons after large-scale test event

(Fedscoop) he Army recently concluded a large event that tested new cyber and electromagnetic spectrum weapons in its tactical operations. The event, Cyber Quest 2021, was hosted by Army Futures Command and brought in users from across the service to test 15 new technologies from more than a dozen vendors, senior leaders told reporters Monday. Many of the lessons learned from the 13-day event will be put into procurement requirements documents for new technologies the Army is focused on as part of its broader strategy to deter great power conflict. “This is unique because of the dialog it allows,” said Maj. Gen. Neil Hersey, commanding general of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence that helped lead Cyber Quest. Read More

DoD’s new Adaptive Acquisition Framework takes new approach to tailoring procurement strategies

(Federal News Network) The complexity of the Defense acquisition system is an immutable reality in at least two respects: One is the canon of laws that exist to keep the system honest. Another is that the work itself is pretty darn complex. As Frank Kendall, a former undersecretary of Defense was fond of pointing out, it actually is rocket science. But the Pentagon believes it can do a lot to help solve the first problem. DoD’s latest rewrite of its internal acquisition rulebook, a project called the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) whose development spanned most of the Trump administration, aims to at least make the system easier for the acquisition workforce to digest and navigate. Read More

Jet packs are on their way to a battlefield near you

(MilitaryTimes) It’s 2021, and although I thought by now there would be flying cars, cities on the moon and the ability to teleport from my bed to my couch instead of walking, I guess I’ll settle for a jet pack, or as DARPA is calling it, a “Portable Personal Air Mobility System.” According to a solicitation first reported by Task & Purpose, “These platforms could serve a variety of military missions, enabling cost effective mission utility and agility in areas such as personnel logistics [and] urban augmented combat.” Read More

What if Planet Nine is a baby black hole?

( Some astronomers believe there is a massive planet, far beyond the orbit of Neptune, orbiting the sun — but after years of searching, scientists have not found this theoretical world, which they’ve dubbed “Planet Nine.” This has spurred theorists to consider a radical hypothesis: Perhaps Planet Nine is not a planet but rather a small black hole that might be detectable from the theoretical radiation emitted from its edge, so-called Hawking radiation. Read More

Meet the soldier who jumps out of a window every day to escape Army boredom

(MilitaryTimes) Army Spc. Lucas Beaver was in charge of running cold fuel operations in Poland in the fall of 2020. His office was housed inside a container-like building with screen-less windows that opened inward. While fighting boredom one day, he decided to jump. Read More