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Pentagon to ink CRADA with OpenAI

The US Department of Defense is working on a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with OpenAI that will be signed in the next few months, a top official in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD R&E) announced on 31 January.

This collaboration with OpenAI is an opportunity to leverage commercial technology's ability to move quickly, Maynard Holliday, assistant secretary of defense for critical technologies in OUSD R&E, said. While he did not provide details on the CRADA, he added that “they asked us to give them use cases for us to pilot, and so we're absolutely going to do that”.

“We recognise that these large language models are going to have to be trained on our bespoke data for us to trust it,” Holliday said at the Potomac Officers Club's Defense Research and Development Summit.

OpenAI first announced the partnership earlier in January 2024 at the World Economic Forum after the company deleted its policy banning military use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

The company was willing to “be a part of the solution”, Holliday said. “I want to give them credit for leaning in,” he told Janes at the event.

The Pentagon does not have the budgetary freedom to acquire technologies like some tech giants, he said. “Imagine us going to Congress and asking for USD13 billion to invest in one company. That's what Microsoft did with OpenAI,” Holliday added. “We can't match that.”

The agreement is “not anywhere near finalised”, he noted. However, he said that because Microsoft, which owns OpenAI, has already been cleared for access to some classified data, “we're going to be able to move fast with them”.

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