Emerging Technology

Energy Dept. looks for AI impact

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 641963182 By 4kclips Department of Energy in Washington - WASHINGTON DC / COLUMBIA - APRIL 7, 2017 

The Department of Energy's year-old artificial intelligence
technology office is looking for collaborative projects with industry and other agencies that will have dramatic, real world impact, according to its director.

The DOE's Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO), said its Director Cheryl Ingstad, is looking for partnerships that can "save lives" by leveraging the agency's vast and varied AI resources.

Rick Perry stood up AITO in Sept, 2019 when he led the department, as part of President Donald Trump's call for a national AI strategy. AITO is the coordinating hub for AI work being done across the agency's considerable enterprise, including its national laboratories.

DOE's most recent announcements that team with Microsoft for emergency responder apps, as well as a collaboration with Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs to share health data, are both examples of how the agency can bring the technology to bear in critical ways.

In July, DOE announced the COVID-19 Insights Partnership with HHS and the VA. The project shows "unprecedented data sharing" among agencies for a shared goal of using data and technology to fight the virus, said Ingstad during an ATARC webcast on Aug. 20.

In early August, DOE announced the First Five Consortium with Microsoft, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Defense Department's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). The consortium's aim is to develop data-based applications that can assist first responders.

Both projects, said Ingstad, can show how DOE can allow joint access to its vast research and development capabilities across its operations to boost AI.

The JAIC is currently scaling a prototype that uses deep learning algorithms to provide near real-time data to improve first responders' decision making in a host of dire situations, according to DOE. With AI, first responders battling wildfires currently raging in California, hurricanes and other natural disasters, said Ingstad, could have better and more immediate knowledge of those situations as a result of the consortium.

Ingstad said the memorandum of understanding between DOE, HHS and the VA was signed in July. "We're just starting our journey," she said, adding that there is currently "early research in peer review."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


  • Image: Shutterstock

    COVID, black swans and gray rhinos

    Steven Kelman suggests we should spend more time planning for the known risks on the horizon.

  • IT Modernization
    businessman dragging old computer monitor (Ollyy/Shutterstock.com)

    Pro-bono technologists look to help cash-strapped states struggling with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help.

Stay Connected