“Is your data ready for your artificial intelligence ambitions?” That was the question on January 17 at LMI Tysons, where the LMI Research Institute (LRI) brought together data science researchers and practitioners with Department of Defense (DoD) decision-makers to discuss the principles behind effective artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) solutions.
More than 30 participants learned how data accuracy, integrity, and accessibility affect development and deployment of AI/ML capabilities in the context of supply chain and logistics challenges—such as predictive maintenance, inventory-level setting, lead-time estimation, and accurate pricing. “By connecting key policy stakeholders from federal agencies with thought leaders from the private and academic side, LMI presented an invaluable forum for thinking about both the big picture and the gritty details,” said one participant.
As LMI chief technology officer Sanjay Parthasarathy, Ph.D., noted in his welcoming remarks, this was the first in a series of LRI workshops planned for 2019, offering a glimpse into how LMI and its academic and industry partners approach complex challenges.
“The LRI is the mechanism by which we make investments in areas of emerging and increasing importance, and this workshop was a key step in making the fruits of those investments accessible and meaningful for our government customers,” he said.
The workshop helped participants understand how to transition from tightly controlled data environments—built over decades within specific organizations, for specific purposes—to more modern environments where data can be accessed, verified, and combined with other data sets to help produce profound insights through AI/ML techniques.
“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics are only as good as the data on which they are built. Helping government leaders develop that mindset and bring it into their organizations makes implementing AI solutions easier and, over time, enhances the insights they are able to generate. We greatly appreciate the enthusiastic response of our workshop participants,” said Sharon Hays, Ph.D., LRI co-manager and LMI senior technical fellow.
In the opening session, LMI senior fellow and visiting lecturer at Cornell University Eric Gentsch (below, left); Vidya Mani, Ph.D., from Penn State University; and Brian Wright, Ph.D., from George Washington University presented on ideal conditions (data types, problem sets) and limitations for AI/ML techniques. Dr. Mani discussed the application of data science to strengthen supply chain security.
The second session featured Immuta CEO Matt Carroll, ArthurAI CEO Adam Wenchel, and LMI director of data engineering Kristen Cheman as they discussed enterprise data challenges, including governance, scalability, and strategy.
“Every organization can take steps toward using AI and machine learning tools. One step could be to assess what data is available and where it is stored,” said Cheman, who also serves as LMI’s director of academic outreach. “Leaders should look to where their organizations might take advantage of basic AI solutions today and at what needs to be done to implement sophisticated techniques in the future. Not all organizations start at the same place, but each can develop a unique roadmap toward leveraging these capabilities.”
Following lunch, participants engaged in small groups in a case study that illustrated how data science could be applied to address a specific logistics and sustainment challenge of direct and immediate relevance to DoD.
“AI-driven predictive analytics is the goal of every organization in the logistics enterprise,” Hays said. “We are really excited at opening our customers’ eyes to the possibilities and look forward to continuing that dialogue in future workshops.”
The next workshop, slated for spring, will focus on human capital challenges faced by many agencies and how government human resource organizations can draw upon lessons learned from the private sector—and each other—to bring workforce innovations from the research realm into practice. If you’re interested in learning more about this workshop or have customers interested in attending, please reach out to Sharon Hays.