The US Department of Defense (DoD) has been contracting big data analytics firm Palantir Technologies for research and development (R&D) services into the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Their work has been ongoing since 28 September 2022, with recurring funds every few months, and is expected to be completed by 28 September 2023. Palantir was awarded $42m in their intital 2022 contract, with a further $10m on 14 December 2022, and the latest boost comprised $60m announced on 31 March 2023.

Handling data

In their thematic intelligence report on Artificial Intelligence (2023), GlobalData estimates the total AI market will be worth $383.3bn in 2030, implying a 21% compound annual growth rate between 2022 and 2030. In the coming decade, the country that emerges on top in AI will lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution according to GlobalData. This area of the tech war between the US and China, in which the former has placed export controls of semi-conductor components on the latter.

ML is an application of AI that has the most practical benefits, as it allows computer systems to learn and improve from data without explicit programming.

The report asserts that the “rapid growth in the volume of data is prompting demand for computing resources to analyse that data” and this is a growing issue in the defence industry where command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) must process enormous amounts of data. AI and ML provide the means by which useful data can be acted upon or used without any substantial delay. In the battlespace environment, this provides the military with a great competitive edge.

Palantir’s integration

The contracting body for the recently awarded funds is the US Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. It is this body that is in charge of the DoD’s Distributed Common Ground System Army (DCGS-A).

This system is the US Army’s primary system for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasking of sensors, posting of data processing information and using intelligence information about threat, weather and terrain.

As the processing hub of a huge deluge of data the DCGS-A is the system that would benefit the most from the automated processing services that AI and ML can provide. In all likelihood Palantir will be researching AI application integration for the Army.