Oct 11, 2023 - Technology

Exclusive: Booz Allen aims to bring AI to government offices

Illustration of the White House in front of a giant brain.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

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.

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.

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.
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