Artificial Intelligence

Top Defense Department research office names new director

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s top research agency named a new director with significant experience in artificial intelligence and microelectronics Monday.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency named Victoria Coleman, the former chief executive of Atlas AI, to its top job. Peter Highnam, who has been the acting director since January this year, will return to his previous role as deputy director, according to a DoD press release.

“During this era of great power competition, DARPA is critical to strengthening the U.S. military’s technological dominance and advancing innovations that benefit our warfighters,” said Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering, in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Dr. Coleman as the new director and look forward to building upon DARPA’s unmatched record of achievement.”

Coleman served as a founding member of DARPA’s Microsystems Exploratory Council and a member of the Defense Science Board. She has extensive private sector experience, including senior vice president at Technicolor, CTO of Connected Home Business, vice president of engineering at Yahoo!, and vice president of software engineering at Hewlett-Packard Palm Global Business Unit.

She also has also led research projects at the University of California-Berkeley, Santa Clara University and University of London. She received her doctorate in computer science from the University of Manchester.

DARPA has been making a push in recent years in advancing artificial intelligence and microelectronics technology.

DARPA recently completed a simulated dogfight between artificial intelligence and a human F-16 pilot. The agency is also making a push in microelectronics as part of its $1.5 billion Electronics Resurgence Initiative. The Department of Defense also wants to entice American companies to bring microelectronics manufacturing back to the United States.

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