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Artificial Intelligence Engineering

AI engineering is an emergent discipline focused on developing tools, systems, and processes to enable the application of artificial intelligence in real-world contexts.

In contrast to the prevalent rush to develop capabilities and progress individual tools, AI Engineering asks a different set of questions: How can AI help humans achieve mission outcomes? What are the limits of AI systems in practice today? How can we ensure that ethical standards are upheld as AI systems are deployed?

The rise in availability of computing power and massive datasets have led to the creation of new AI, models, and algorithms encompassing thousands of variables and capable of making rapid and impactful decisions. Too often, though, these capabilities work only in controlled environments and are difficult to replicate, verify, and validate in the real world.

The need for an engineering discipline to guide the development and deployment of AI capabilities is urgent. For example, while an autonomous vehicle functions well cruising down an empty race track on a sunny day, how can it be designed to function just as effectively during a hail storm in New York City? AI engineering aims to provide a framework and tools to proactively design AI systems to function in environments characterized by high degrees of complexity, ambiguity, and dynamism. The discipline of AI engineering aims to equip practitioners to develop systems across the enterprise-to-edge spectrum, to anticipate requirements in changing operational environments and conditions, and to ensure human needs are translated into understandable, ethical, and thus trustworthy AI.

Developing the Discipline of AI Engineering

AI Engineering is taking shape as a discipline already across different organizations and institutions. We at the SEI see ourselves not only a source of AI Engineering expertise, but also as conveners and catalysts, bringing together people and ideas to share the lessons learned, the techniques developed, and the discoveries made.

With funding and guidance from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the SEI is leading a national initiative to advance the discipline of AI engineering that aligns with the DoD’s vision of creating viable, trusted, and extensible AI systems.

Our Pillars to AI Engineering

AI Engineering is a field of research and practice that combines the principles of systems engineering, software engineering, computer science, and human-centered design to create AI systems in accordance with human needs for mission outcomes. Through conversations with partners, we’ve developed three pillars to guide our approach to AI Engineering.

Human-centered AI

Scalable AI

Robust and Secure AI

AI Engineering Today

The SEI works to publish information to advance the field of AI, and to bring other leading work to researchers and other partners who are trying to develop secure and robust AI. Seminal resources we look to in advancing the discipline of AI Engineering include the following:

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The Latest from the SEI Blog

Will Nichols

Cost-Effective AI Infrastructure: 5 Lessons Learned

May 13, 2024 • Blog Post
William Nichols, Bryan Brown

This post details challenges and state of the art of cost-effective AI infrastructure and five lessons learned for standing up an...

Douglas C. Schmidt

Applying Large Language Models to DoD Software Acquisition: An Initial Experiment

April 01, 2024 • Blog Post
Douglas Schmidt (Vanderbilt University), John E. Robert

This SEI Blog post illustrates examples of using LLMs for software acquisition in the context of a document summarization experiment and codifies the lessons learned from this experiment and related work on applying generative AI to software...


Our Vision for the Future Of Artificial Intelligence Engineering

Bolstered by our expertise in developing applications for AI, the SEI is leading a movement to cultivate and mature the professional discipline of AI engineering. This discipline will lay the groundwork for developing scalable, robust and secure, and human-centered AI systems as well as the planning and commitment it takes to support, expand, and evolve those systems for the coming decades.

Join the movement to establish and mature the AI Engineering discipline.

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