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Artificial Intelligence Engineering

In its Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the Department of Defense (DoD) defines Artificial Intelligence (AI) as “the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence—for example, recognizing patterns, learning from experience, drawing conclusions, making predictions, or taking action—whether digitally or as the smart software behind autonomous physical systems.”

AI is transforming the capabilities of the DoD for mission areas such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); cybersecurity; mission planning and command; and logistics. AI can help engineers solve difficult software problems and it can enhance the performance of human operators, like warfighters or cyber operators who work in environments where speed and accuracy are critical.

To deliver capabilities in these areas, we must develop the right mathematical techniques and models that ensure we can effectively apply AI to complex data sets—from network traffic to surveillance images to biological systems. We must also develop effective learning mechanisms so that AI systems can accurately and appropriately address scenarios that they haven’t encountered before, especially when these systems confront environments that are rapidly changing. Meeting these challenges can lead to AI solutions that help create safer and more secure software and can also support the nation’s military and government defense and security.


The present moment is pivotal: we must act to protect our security and advance our competitiveness, seizing the initiative to lead the world in the development and adoption of transformative defense AI solutions that are safe, ethical, and secure.

Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Today’s AI Applications, Tomorrow’s AI Discipline

The SEI works within an ever-growing body of research to create AI solutions for problems that could previously only be solved with specialized engineering knowledge, like finding vulnerabilities or malicious code in software, or evaluating the quality of software an organization is acquiring. These solutions are flexible enough to make inferences about code when they encounter examples they haven’t seen before, and they free software engineers from having to perform these time-consuming tasks while staying on course with development and reducing costs.

Our Collaborators

We bring the leading edge of academic and industry research to bear on real mission challenges. We collaborate with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and beyond to build solutions that capitalize on the promising capabilities of AI.

The SEI’s history as a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) also means that we know what it takes to lay a foundation for confident, rapid adoption of AI for national defense and security. Our expertise with AI allows us to build and deploy systems that can help the DoD augment its mission capabilities in many areas, such as processing satellite imagery, bolstering air superiority, increasing the accuracy for predicting unlikely events, detecting anomalous patterns or movements—such as unusual paths of ships along coastlines­—or improving remote surveillance.

The expertise the SEI brings to the applications it discovers and builds for AI also feeds our research into leading the creation of an AI engineering discipline that ensures we can understand and repeat our successful solutions. Just as professional disciplines like civil engineering, electrical engineering, and software engineering ensure we can understand and repeat successful solutions in those fields, AI engineering can provide a foundation for creating scalable, secure and robust, and human-centered AI systems again and again. Such a discipline is critical to achieving the DoD’s vision of safe, ethical, and secure AI solutions.

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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.