US Air Force to increase efficiency by working with IBM’s Watson

Mar 21, 2016

Watson.jpgWhile advancements in technology have allowed institutions to perform physical functions faster than ever before, {deep? free?} thinking tasks have been largely left to people. This is less of a moral objection to the idea of mechanical minds and more a statement on the effectiveness of the human brain when it comes to problem solving. That said, it would appear the U.S. Air Force and the Pentagon are attempting to break this mold by allowing IBM's Watson to analyze the Federal Acquisition Regulation, according to the Washington Post. 

FAR is meant to coordinate spending at the federal level and make sure certain regulatory standards are met with the private business partners the government deals with. This process is generally tedious and time-wasting – the FAR document itself is 1,897 pages long – which is why the Pentagon is so keen on finding out if Watson can improve it. 

How can Watson improve efficiency?

Aside from being able to read faster than any human, which will seriously cut down on time spent reviewing an intended purchase, Watson can also work to increase the effectiveness of a planned acquisition. As with any sector of the government, the Pentagon's spending is sharply chastised for any misuse of taxpayer money.

While the Air Force needs the latest and the greatest to help protect America and her interests abroad, implementing this technology often hits previously unseen snafus. Overspending happens quite often, and costly delays from unforeseen circumstances waste a lot of money. In fact, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry believes this problem has gotten so bad that it's endangering America as a whole, having been quoted saying as much by the Washington Post. 

"The technology cycle is faster than it's ever been, and speeding up," said Thornberry. "If it takes us another 20 years to field the next airplane or the next ship, it's going to be out date by the time it gets there, and we will not be able to defend the country."

America's troops need constant technological information, and slowing the process down with heavy bureaucratic musings only works to put them in danger. With Watson's help, the Pentagon and the Air Force would be able to quickly and efficiently narrow down candidates for a particular contract, thereby decreasing time wasted. What's more, Watson now works through the cloud, allowing multiple agencies to efficiently and effectively use IBM's mechanical mind. 

Transparency is big 

Another major improvement of Watson's implementation into the FAR process is the intended increase in transparency. As the world moves to a more digital arena, people are beginning to want to know what their government is up to. This is especially true of private businesses looking to snag government contracts.

Watson would help these organizations connect with agency officials to help facilitate communication about upcoming programs. This gives smaller companies the chance to compete with the bigger businesses, as large enterprises often have government connections that tend to push out any sort of challengers. This will allow for the best organization for the job to get the contract, once again working toward decreasing inefficiency. 

What's more, private citizens aren't the only ones who want transparency. An infographic created by Government Technology is showing that IT officials of all kinds believe an open government is a good thing. The study found that both county and city CIOs believe transparency to be a top priority. Keeping information that isn't pertinent to national security private has a lot of drawbacks, and it would appear that the IT community has begun to see the benefits of open government data. Watson's implementation should help to bring the importance of transparency into the spotlight while also increasing efficiency. 



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