Exclusive: Booz Allen aims to bring AI to government offices
Booz Allen Hamilton launched a new set of AI capabilities aimed at federal military and civilian clients, and will tell investors on Wednesday that it's aiming for $500 million to $700 million in government AI contracts in fiscal year 2024, per data shared exclusively with Axios.
Why it matters: Generative AI offers government and military organizations the chance to deliver faster and better services — pushing officials to better organize and apply the huge amounts of data they already collect.
Details: Booz Allen's new AI products include some aimed to solve specific problems for specific users and others that provide more general capabilities that developers can adapt for many different purposes.
- The specific products are for defensive cybersecurity operations, and computer vision services that interpret information from images and videos.
- The broader capabilities include fine tuned generative AI models, software for ensuring responsible AI deployment, and tools to protect AI models from outside attack.
- Booz Allen already operates aiSSEMBLE, a platform to help government clients — ranging from recreation.gov to the Department of Defense — speed up AI development and deployment.
The big picture: Federal AI contracting could shape wider AI development, given the scale of federal procurement.
- Government agencies spend around $100 billion a year on IT but struggle to make use of the data at their disposal — prompting a rapid uptick in AI spending to around $3 billion a year, according to a Deltek report.
The intrigue: Government AI contractors are grappling with the tension between delivering more transparent AI systems and the risk of opening more threat vectors thanks to that transparency.
Yes, but: While AI offers new capabilities in fields like situational awareness, Israel's advanced use of AI did not prevent Hamas' attacks — systemic intelligence failures occurred despite cutting edge investments.
- U.S. federal officials have also sent mixed signals about use of generative AI — with most applying brakes. The threat of a U.S. federal government shutdown will further complicate AI procurement.
What they're saying: AI "is no longer the purview of the nerds" within the federal government, John Larson, a Booz Allen executive vice president and leader of the firm's AI practice, told Axios.
- Larson said new tools (including chatbots) allow bigger groups of staff to interrogate data with natural language — surfacing more imaginative ideas and helping to overcome tech skill shortages.
- "The power of AI is finding patterns and trends that humans just can't perceive — finding signals among huge amounts of noise," Larson said.