"Eric Schmidt Is Building the Perfect AI War-Fighting Machine: How Product Managers Can Contribute to Military Innovation"

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Aug 04, 20233 min read

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"Eric Schmidt Is Building the Perfect AI War-Fighting Machine: How Product Managers Can Contribute to Military Innovation"

The former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, is on a mission to rewire the US military with cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) to take on China. Schmidt's startup, Istari, is using machine learning to virtually assemble and test war machines from computer models of individual components. This approach allows for faster development of hardware by creating virtual replicas known as digital twins, a common practice in manufacturing. Schmidt's unique position as a link between the tech industry and the Pentagon makes him well-suited to understand the military's technological needs and help them obtain it.

The US military has always relied on technological advancements to maintain its power. However, the current Pentagon system is seen as a barrier to progress. Schmidt describes it as a "bad system" that evolved to serve a previous era dominated by large, slow, and expensive projects. To remain competitive, the military needs to move quickly and adapt technology from the private sector, as demonstrated by the Ukrainian military's success in resisting a much larger power.

One of the most pressing technological challenges for the Pentagon is AI. Schmidt believes that AI-powered autonomy and decentralized, distributed systems have the potential to revolutionize military hardware, intelligence gathering, and backend software. The Defense Science Board, the agency's top technical advisory body, also recognizes the importance of AI-powered autonomy in shaping the future of military competition and conflict.

However, the best AI tools are often built by companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple, or inside startups. This creates a challenge for the US military to rapidly adapt commercial technologies for military use faster than its competitors. The Pentagon has increasingly turned to large tech companies for contracts, but this approach has been met with controversy. To bridge this gap, tech ambassadors can help the Pentagon understand how to slash bureaucracy and become a more attractive partner to startups, which are crucial sources of new ideas.

Schmidt's work highlights the value of government and private collaboration. However, it also emphasizes the need for greater transparency and new accountability as this collaboration grows. As the US and China engage in an AI rivalry, it is important to consider the potential spread of authoritarian values through technology. Balancing innovation and security is a delicate task that requires careful oversight and ethical considerations.

For product managers looking to contribute to military innovation, there are several key takeaways. Firstly, understanding the needs and challenges of the military is crucial. This involves staying informed about the latest advancements in AI and military technology. Secondly, building relationships with stakeholders, both within the military and in the private sector, is essential. Creating a management plan that instills confidence in one's ability to handle the complexities of military projects is a valuable asset. Lastly, gaining hands-on experience in product development and proving one's capabilities through successful projects can open doors to opportunities in the defense industry.

In conclusion, Eric Schmidt's efforts to integrate cutting-edge AI into the US military highlight the importance of technological innovation in maintaining military power. However, this pursuit must be balanced with transparency, accountability, and ethical considerations. Product managers can play a crucial role in driving military innovation by understanding the needs of the military, building relationships with stakeholders, and gaining relevant experience in product development. By doing so, they can contribute to the development of effective and ethical military technologies.

Resource:

  1. "Eric Schmidt Is Building the Perfect AI War-Fighting Machine", https://www.wired.com/story/eric-schmidt-is-building-the-perfect-ai-war-fighting-machine/ (Glasp)
  2. "プロダクトマネージャーとは?プロジェクトマネージャーとの違いは?仕事内容や必要なスキルを徹底解説! | Geekly Media", (Glasp)

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