NewsBrief March 26, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: March 26, 2021

Pentagon’s Joint Common Foundation AI platform is up and running

(fedscoop) The Department of Defense launched a new coding platform aimed at helping users across the military build their own artificial intelligence models. The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center’s Joint Common Foundation (JCF) has reached “initial operating capability” and already has some users in the services, center Director Lt. Gen. Michael Groen said Tuesday, although he did not specify what type of projects or who is involved. The JCF is meant to be a one-stop-shop for anyone from dabbling data amateurs looking to fill out a slide-deck to full-on machine-learning developers hungry for clean data and an environment to write code. It will play a central role for the developing JAIC, especially as it turns to being an “enabling force” across the DOD rather than working on specific AI projects. Read More

Savage Cuts for the RAF in UK Defense Review

(AINonline)The United Kingdom’s recent defense and security review, and the Defence Command Paper Defence in a Competitive Age that followed it, aimed to identify and understand future threats and to invest in the capabilities needed to defeat them. The review process was shaped more by budgetary constraints than by military necessity and ended up imposing a series of cuts to force size, structure, and equipment. The Royal Air Force was hit particularly hard, despite optimistic-sounding statements from senior officers. Read More

Machine learning shows potential to enhance quantum information transfer

(US Army) RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Army-funded researchers demonstrated a machine learning approach that corrects quantum information in systems composed of photons, improving the outlook for deploying quantum sensing and quantum communications technologies on the battlefield. When photons are used as the carriers of quantum information to transmit data, that information is often distorted due to environment fluctuations destroying the fragile quantum states necessary to preserve it. Researchers from Louisiana State University exploited a type of machine learning to correct for information distortion in quantum systems composed of photons. Read More

DARPA’s AI fighter pilot gets more capabilities in latest tests

(fedscoop) The artificial intelligence system the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is building to pilot fighter jets has added several new capabilities in recent tests. The Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program made headlines in August when the AI system successfully defeated a human pilot in virtual dogfights 5-0. And now, in the system’s latest tests in February, DARPA added new weapons systems and multiple aircraft to the virtual battles, DARPA said in a March news release. The trials put ACE on track for live, in-flight tests later in 2021. “Adding more weapon options and multiple aircraft introduces a lot of the dynamics that we were unable to push and explore in the AlphaDogfight Trials,” Col. Dan “Animal” Javorsek, program manager at DARPA said about the initial trials in August. Read More

GAO to review Space Command headquarters decision

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office will review the U.S. Air Force’s decision to headquarter Space Command in Huntsville, Alabama. The city was one of six locations competing to be the future home of SPACECOM, the 11th combatant command reestablished in 2019 as part of the Trump administration’s shake-up of the nation’s military space organizations, which included the creation of the U.S. Space Force and the Space Development Agency. SPACECOM was initially located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado as the Air Force determined the future location for the new headquarters, expected to host 1,400 personnel. Peterson AFB was one of those six sites to survive the first round of cuts. Read More

Industry groups call for TMF reforms following funding boost

(FCW)Ten technology industry groups are urging the federal government to change how it manages a revolving fund slated to receive $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The Technology Modernization Fund was created by the Modernizing Government Technology Act in 2017 and launched with $100 million. The Biden administration initially floated a coronavirus relief bill that would have appropriated $9 billion to TMF. While that plan did not come to fruition, the $1 billion the fund will receive is still a major boost from the $25 million annual additions it has received since its inception. Industry and former government officials have cheered on the increased funding, but that excitement has also come with anxiety about whether the processes put in place to manage a relatively small amount of money will scale up. Read More

Building a cloud-ready operating model for agility and resiliency

(McKinsey Digital) With customer expectations and technology evolving at an unprecedented clip, moving to cloud is increasingly becoming a strategic priority for businesses. Capturing the $1 trillion value up for grabs in the cloud, however, has proven frustratingly difficult for many companies. One of the main reasons for this difficulty is that IT’s operating model remains stuck in a quagmire of legacy processes, methodologies, and technologies. Overcoming this problem requires business and IT to take a step back and think holistically about their cloud operating model. And they need to move now. IT has become integral to driving value and a crucial enabler in meeting business and customer expectations of speed, flexibility, cost, and reliability. Read More

NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Prepares for First Flight

(NASA) NASA is targeting no earlier than April 8 for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make the first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Before the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft can attempt its first flight, however, both it and its team must meet a series of daunting milestones. Ingenuity remains attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars Feb. 18. On March 21, the rover deployed the guitar case-shaped graphite composite debris shield that protected Ingenuity during landing. The rover currently is in transit to the “airfield” where Ingenuity will attempt to fly. Once deployed, Ingenuity will have 30 Martian days, or sols, (31 Earth days) to conduct its test flight campaign. Read More

First image of a black hole gets a polarizing update that sheds light on magnetic fields

( the mind-boggling release of the first image ever captured of a black hole, astronomers have done it again, revealing a new view of the massive celestial object and shedding light on how magnetic fields behave close to black holes. In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration produced the first-ever image of a black hole, which lies at the center of the M87 galaxy 55 million light-years from Earth. The image showed a bright ring with a dark center, which is the black hole’s shadow. In capturing this image, astronomers noticed a significant amount of polarized light around the black hole. Now, the collaboration has revealed a new look at the black hole, showing what it looks like in polarized light. Read More

The big reset: Data-driven marketing in the next normal

(McKinsey) Between March and August 2020, one in five consumers switched brands, and seven in ten tried new digital shopping channels. The retail sector experienced ten years of growth in digital penetration in a matter of months. But the resulting surge in data has not provided marketers with substantially better understanding of their customers, because their companies’ outdated data modeling isn’t able to capture these shifts with the necessary granularity and speed. Rather than using the data to try to better target customers and tailor messages, many marketers have reverted to mass communications and promotions. As one CMO told us, “I’ve largely retreated to mass marketing instead of data-driven marketing because customer behavior is changing so fast I can’t trust my historical data and models.” Read More