In a groundbreaking initiative, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Chief Digital and AI Office, alongside the Defense Innovation Unit, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Army Pacific Command, and the U.S. Air Force, has announced the hosting of the much-anticipated BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects AI hackathon.
Scheduled to take place from February 5 to 9, 2024, this multi-classification hackathon is poised to bring together innovative minds from diverse backgrounds to tackle enterprise challenges associated with data. The event, set in the scenic landscapes of Oahu, Hawaii, marks a pivotal moment in the convergence of digital technology and military strategy, fostering an environment where creativity and problem-solving take center stage.
AI hackathon overview
The BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects hackathon, a brainchild of the U.S. Air Force’s initiative to expedite learning and capability development from classified and protected operational data, is set to take place on the picturesque island of Oahu, Hawaii.
The event opens its doors to all U.S. citizens, regardless of their affiliation with the federal government or possession of security clearances. Applications for participation, available online, will be accepted on a rolling first-come-first-serve basis, with the first group of acceptances scheduled for mid-December. Given the overwhelming response in past events, organizers have secured an overflow room, highlighting the expected demand for participation.
Participants are not mandated to hold security clearances, but specific spaces, use-cases, and datasets may require a U.S. secret security clearance or higher. The hackathon encourages applications from various backgrounds, including federal employees, government contractors, and U.S. citizens affiliated or unaffiliated with any company. Federal employees and contractors are further encouraged to submit potential use-cases, fostering collaboration between the hackathon and the broader defense community. The history of BRAVO hackathons demonstrates their impact on major Defense Department programs, ranging from large language models to unmanned systems and battle damage assessment.
Since 2021, the U.S. Air Force has been at the forefront of organizing multi-service prototyping events, known as BRAVO hackathons. These events aim to leverage classified and protected operational data to accelerate learning and capability development. BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects, the fourth edition of these hackathons, distinguishes itself by being the first held inside a combatant command.
The focus is on utilizing Indo-Pacific operational theater data to address combatant command challenges. The permissive software development environment employed by BRAVO allows the integration of classified and protected data with untrusted open-source and commercial software, facilitating rapid innovation.
Influencing defense strategies – Prototypes and beyond
Previous BRAVO hackathons have left a lasting impact on major Defense Department programs, shaping strategies in areas such as large language models, space launch, flight telemetry, biometrics, unmanned systems, fight damage assessment, security categorization, sensing and targeting, and personnel recovery.
Stuart Wagner, Chief Digital Transformation Officer for the Department of the Air Force and BRAVO AI Battle Labs Executive Agent, draws parallels with history, emphasizing the transformative potential of such initiatives. He notes how the hackathons aim to change the landscape of warfare by enabling innovators to develop and employ data-driven effects during competition and conflict.
As the BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects hackathon approaches, the anticipation of groundbreaking innovations in the realm of digital and artificial intelligence is palpable. The convergence of diverse talents, unrestricted by government affiliations or security clearances, promises a dynamic and inclusive environment for problem-solving.
The outcomes of this event have the potential to shape the future of defense strategies, much like the historical shifts observed after innovative exercises such as Project B in the early 1920s. The question now lingers: How will the outcomes of the BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects hackathon influence the trajectory of military technology and strategy in the years to come?