NewsBrief September 4, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: September 4, 2020

Telework Increases Productivity within Defense Department; Gen. Arnold Bunch Quoted

(ExecutiveGov) Gen. Arnold Bunch, the commander of U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, recently noted that productivity of the service branch’s workforce has increased in almost-all telework environments, Federal News Network reported on Monday. Bunch noted that he has directed a review of position descriptions across his 80,000-person command to decide if they’re more telework-compatible than what was imagined when those descriptions were written, to continue the virtual workforce after the pandemic is over. Read More

US Navy eyes permanent solution for post-pandemic collaboration tools

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s top IT official said Wednesday that the service is working to deploy a solution to prepare for the shutdown of the Defense Department’s temporary collaboration platform, which he expects to “likely” happen in June 2021. Navy Chief Information Officer Aaron Weis said the Pentagon’s Commercial Virtual Remote Environment, a temporary Microsoft Teams platform that provided collaboration tools during mass telework for department employees, has changed the service’s approach to post-pandemic work. Read More

DOD must prioritize quality data collection to train AI, officials say

(fedscoop) Collecting and generating quality data sets to train artificial intelligence models needs to be a priority for the department, with some officials arguing it should be a requirement in contracts moving forward. By being proactive about collecting and generating data, the future of AI can be built on quality inputs, Michael Kanaan, director of operations at the Air Force’s AI Accelerator at MIT, said Tuesday during the AFCEA DCAI and ML Technology Summit. Other technology officials endorsed the idea of being more aggressive about data collection rather than being “opportunistic” or working on old, lower quality data sets. Read More

Two hypersonic weapons complete new developmental milestone

(DefenseNews) WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have wrapped up captive carry tests of two hypersonic weapon variants that will perform their first free-flight tests later this year, the organizations announced Sept. 1. Both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have designed scramjet-powered hypersonic missiles as part of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program run by the Air Force and DARPA. Read More

Toward a machine learning model that can reason about everyday actions

(Robo Daily) The ability to reason abstractly about events as they unfold is a defining feature of human intelligence. We know instinctively that crying and writing are means of communicating, and that a panda falling from a tree and a plane landing are variations on descending. Organizing the world into abstract categories does not come easily to computers, but in recent years researchers have inched closer by training machine learning models on words and images infused with structural information about the world, and how objects, animals, and actions relate. Read More

Engaging employees to use analytics: How mining companies solve the adoption challenge

(McKinsey & Company) In a capital-intensive industry like mining, productivity improvements can have a major bottom-line impact. For that reason, advanced analytics can generate immense value, helping leaders optimize processes, reduce downtime, and inform on-site decision making. But the mining industry is highly complex. Plants operate like small cities, with hundreds of people and thousands of pieces of equipment. Nearly every process requires specialized expertise and careful choreography. Metallurgists have to adjust procedures for site conditions. Dispatchers have to keep trucks moving in just the right sequence. Mine engineers must continually tailor mine plans. Knowing what measures to dial up or pull back on to keep the operation humming is both an art and a science. Read More

NASA Seeks Next Class of Flight Directors for Human Spaceflight Missions

(NASA) NASA is looking for leaders for one of the best jobs on Earth for human spaceflight – including missions to the Moon – the position of flight director in mission control at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Those chosen as NASA flight directors will lead human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, as American astronauts once again are launching on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil to the orbiting laboratory. For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. Flight directors also will lead upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon, and eventually the first human missions to Mars. Read More