Mitre Wants The Feds To Play In Its Sandbox

If you haven’t worked with the US government, you might not know Mitre, a non-profit government research organization. Formed in 1958 by the U.S. Air Force as a company to guide the SAGE computer, they are often research experts who oversee government contracts or evaluate proposals. Now they are building a $20 millon “AI Sandbox” for the Federal government to build AI prototypes.

Partnered with NVidia, the sandbox will use an NVidia GDX SuperPOD system capable of an exaFLOP of 8-bit AI computation. Mitre reports this will increase their compute power for AI by two orders of magnitude.

Access to the sandbox will be through one of the six federally funded R&D centers that Mitre operates on behalf of the government. These include centers that support the FAA, the IRS, Homeland Security, Social Security, health services, and cybersecurity with NIST. Of course, the DoD is likely in that mix, too.

So what do they (or the government) think they are going to do with all this AI power? We don’t know. But we are sure we’ll see some colorful guesses in the comments. The fact that it is through the R&D centers makes us think an AI might soon be sifting through your taxes soon or maybe routing your next airplane ride. We aren’t sure if that makes us feel better or worse.

AI servers seem to be the new supercomputer. The scary part is that what one generation considers a supercomputer, the next generation carries in their pocket.

18 thoughts on “Mitre Wants The Feds To Play In Its Sandbox

  1. >So what do they (or the government) think they are going to do with all this AI power?
    Same things any other capable state are going to do. Whoever decides to leave stuff like this on the table exposes themselves to extreme future risk, regardless of what the EA goons would have you believe. And no, you’re not going to get everybody to leave it on the table. The more people do that, the greater incentive there is for the remainders to cheat and grab the magic power machine for themselves.

    >AI might soon be sifting through your taxes soon…
    Very bad. They will not be doing your taxes for you and sending you a refund check in the mail automagically. This could have been done ages ago, and obvious conflicts of interest and companies like Intuit make it so that IRS computing power only goes towards rathumping you (auditing random jamokes of course, not people of significant means)

    >…or maybe routing your next airplane ride
    Good. The competency issues in this field need to be addressed realistically, and so far they are not doing that.

      1. It’s wild to me that North American’s have to pay to use software to make filing taxes possible for the common folk. At least in Canada they have a free option that I used to file mine, but it couldn’t do deductions.
        In Australia the government has essentially the equivalent to turbotax, online, for free. If you want anything more advanced you’d be going to an accountant anyway.

      2. That’s the point. Tax prep companies lobby to make sure that taxes don’t get simplified. That way there is a huge benefit to using their software. If taxes were simple enough to do without expensive software, and entire industry would disappear. Then all those people employed in that industry would be forced to look for jobs doing something productive instead.

      3. This year, the IRS tested out the new Direct File service in 12 states for people with fairly simple returns. Apparently, it was hugely popular, and they’re planning on expanding it. I’m sure TurboTax will pitch a fit, so I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Q: Who owns the number 1 machine on the TOPS500 list ?
    A: Oak Ridge, which is part of DOE, which is part of the US government.

    And I feel sure that the NoSuchAgency, have some old unused machines far more powerful than the above that they are probably using as server doorstops*.

    *Extract from “Surely you’re joking mr. Feynman”:
    “Meanwhile, you know how people do when they talk ­­ you kind of jiggle around and so forth. He was kicking the doorstop, you see, and I said, “Yes, the doorstop certainly is appropriate for this door.” The doorstop was a ten­ inch hemisphere of yellowish metal ­gold, as a matter of fact. What had happened was that we needed to do an experiment to see how many neutrons were reflected by different materials, in order to save the neutrons so we didn’t use so much material. We had tested many different materials. We had tested platinum, we had tested zinc, we had tested brass, we had tested gold. So, in making the tests with the gold, we had these pieces of gold and somebody had the clever idea of using that
    great ball of gold for a doorstop for the door of the room that contained the plutonium.”

  3. I hope they replace the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government with AI. I trust a flawed AI more than those self serving idiots.

    1. So, the same Google Bard AI that turned everyone in history black? The garbage in-garbage out mantra applies just as much to AI as any other form of software, perhaps even more so.

      Ultimately, the way things are heading, we are heading to a Brave New World/1984 mash-up anyway. But just remember all software have administrators and backdoors. Just remember its those who will be running things. They will just be self-serving “geniuses” if that makes you feel any better.

  4. The first time I heard of Mitre was in Cliff Stoll’s book “The Cuckoo’s Egg”, where he relates how the German spy Markus Hess penetrated their system so thoroughly that he used it as a staging post for other attacks. For some reason the last time I looked up Mitre’s article on the Wikipedia this adventure wasn’t mentioned…

  5. Sooooooooooo, Project: Northern Lights is a go? Can they use it to find missing persons of interest or are they going to fake the funk by saying they’re going with a good Samaritan approach and start running us with ruthless efficiency?

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