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The Government Is Embracing AI/ML: Are You Ready?

Highlights from MainStreet Bank’s GovCon Summit

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning—AI/ML for short—are rapidly emerging as key tools for the
federal government. To stay competitive in a changing landscape, contractors must understand how the government is harnessing these technologies to modernize systems and processes.
 
These issues dominated the recent MainStreet Bank Summit for government contractors, Navigating New Frontiers: AI/ML in the Federal Market. Our thanks to speakers Rob Mennell and James Campbell for their insights, which we have distilled into six practical imperatives.

Learn the Lingo

  • AI is a broad category that encompasses any type of intelligence that isn’t organic.
  • ML is a subset of AI that uses algorithms to analyze data, learn from it and make informed decisions.

See the Potential

  • AI/ML allow government agencies to automate repetitive tasks inherent in large bureaucracies.
  • This saves time and improves resource allocation by enabling people to focus on more complex tasks.
  • As the world becomes more digitized, there’s more data generated than humans can analyze, which makes finding the right AI/ML solutions crucial.

Recognize that Regulation Is Lagging… But Not Forever

  • AI technology is new, but scaling in an unprecedented way, and government regulations have been slow to keep up.
  • Questions remain about how to regulate this technology to ensure democratized and safe access without stifling innovation.
  • Top concerns include customer protection, child protection, and content moderation.

Understand the Ball Is in Play

  • The government is reacting very quickly to incorporate emerging AI/ML technology into their systems and processes.
  • Agencies have begun granting approvals for limited use of “generative AI,” including models that draft emails, take meeting notes, and assist in several other administrative tasks.
  • The federal government is laying the groundwork for responsible and ethical innovation and competition in the AI space. An example is Executive Order 14110: Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.

But Hurdles Remain

  • Challenges include effectively identifying and procuring the right AI/ML solutions and establishing safety and security regulations for government agencies.
  • Agencies want to understand exactly how new solutions make decisions, and with which data.
  • “Explainable AI” can create tools and frameworks to help people understand and evaluate the decision-making process of AI systems. It will be crucial to building trust and mitigating risks.

So Do Your Homework and Get Ready to Learn!

  • Given how new this technology is and the myriad ways it can be used across government and beyond, the speakers observed there are few if any true experts in this space—yet.
  • It’s vital to explore how AI will intersect with your specific government agency and role so you can make the right decisions for your domain.
  • One way to expand your knowledge of AI systems is to try them yourself. The speakers suggested a few: ChatGPT, Ollama, GPT4All and Claude.

About the Speakers

Rob Mennell

Rob Mennell is Chief Growth Officer at Synertex, a mid-tier technology firm. With over 20 years in the defense and intelligence sector, he has developed a variety of use cases for ML and helped companies of all sizes obtain Al/ML contracts with the federal government.

James Campbell

James Campbell is a full-stack developer with over 20 years of expertise in large-scale data collection, processing, and Al algorithm development. He has been the main architect in creating solutions like Obskura, a multimillion dollar dark web search engine.

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