The premier interdisciplinary institute for applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to national security concerns.
The Florida Institute for National Security (FINS) is an interdisciplinary, cross-curricular entity that is galvanizing the robust research, education, and professional development efforts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) already underway at the University of Florida (UF) towards the development of deployable, applied AI-based solutions in support of the most prevailing national security challenges.
FINS emerges in support of the UF’s AI Initiative, which aims to: build an AI University; make UF a leader in AI research and development; and, thus, play a crucial role in the transformation of Florida’s economy into a diversified, technology-driven, high-wage economy by implementing the integration of AI (coursework) Across the Curriculum, as well as providing upskilling and professional development opportunities to enable the future workforce to use AI technology to solve pressing challenges across every industry.
FINS extends this mission to the development of deployable, applied AI in support of national security concerns such as defense, cybersecurity, ecology, medical informatics, the stability & logistics of our economy, microelectronics, supply-chains, transportation and communication systems.
WHY AI & national Security
Modern society has ventured into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is characterized by emerging technologies that synthesize the physical, digital, and biological worlds and in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key driver that has catalyzed stunning levels of technological development impacting and transforming all disciplines, sectors of society, economies, and industries worldwide. A failure to develop, adopt, and effectively integrate AI technology poses significant risks to our national security.
As per the Final Report published in March 2021 by The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) – a bipartisan commission of 15 technologists, national security professionals, business executives, and academic leaders –
- “The human talent deficit is the government’s most conspicuous AI deficit and the single greatest inhibitor to buying, building, and fielding AI-enabled technologies for national security purposes.”
- “The domestic AI talent pipeline is not keeping up with government and industry needs.”
- “The US government must dramatically invest in AI talent pipelines in order to remain at the forefront of AI now and into the future.”
FINS is uniquely situated in a state that plays a critical role in all matters of national security as Florida is home to many key commands and government and industrial organizations focused on defense and intelligence.
In addition, Florida is often ground zero for national security matters such as illegal drug importation & interdiction, illegal immigration, and ecological concerns such as sea level rise.
Hence, FINS’ proximity to these security and defense stakeholders provides an advantageous opportunity to draw from and contribute to statewide talent pools, as well as to lead the way in promoting the deployment of new AI technologies in support of national security.
Just as FINS is situated within a state that plays a role in overseeing crucial national security operations and resources, it is also advantageously based within one of the nation’s leading research institutions, whose current AI-infrastructure already enables it to emerge as a leader in AI research, development, and education.
Further, in accordance with FINS’ Mission and Vision Statements, the institute fully intends to leverage the arsenal or resources afforded by UF and its standing among the Top 5 Public Universities in the U.S. towards establishing Florida as a nationally recognized, premier hub for AI innovation, talent, and workforce development in support of national security.
FINS is buttressed in doing so by the following:
- Established in 2012, FINS is the first academic institution in the state of Florida focused on national security.
- UF is the first university to establish a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) with CIA Labs, providing potential direct connections with UF graduates and the intelligence sector.
- UF also has extensive research relationships with many government agencies that are involved with national security matters, such as the NOAA, NASA, DoD, Forestry Service, USGS, USDA, and various members of the intelligence community (IC).
- UF is one of only 17 institutions nation-wide to carry the triple designation of land, sea, and space-grant university and is the only institution in Florida to hold that distinction.
- UF is home to HiPerGator AI 3.0, which is designed specifically for AI development and is noted for being the most powerful supercomputer for AI research in Florida, the most powerful university supercomputer in the southern US, and the third-fastest university supercomputer in the country. (Forbes, 2021)
- Given the world-leading caliber of research which UF produces across disciplines through its institutes, programs, and departments, FINS provides the opportunity to develop a cohesive focal point at UF for advancements in the arena of AI and national security matters.
- UF has 300+ faculty across campus conducting applied AI research in various disciplines.
- FINS is capable of performing restricted research has experience with providing and has experience with providing innovative and robust solutions to government stakeholders
- UF’s business incubator, UF Innovate, which is ranked 1st among US public universities in tech-transfer for economic return (Heartland Forward, 2022), will advance transitioning new AI technologies from academic labs into the government and public sectors.
- FINS’s sponsoring college, the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering (HWCOE) is home to:
- The Electronic Delivery of Gator Engineering (EDGE) Program, which delivers on- line (for credit and non-credit) offerings to up-skill citizens, including many AI-based offerings, such as a Graduate Machine Learning Certificate, an Undergraduate AI Certificate, short courses for engineers, and AI Credentials/Micro-credentials.
- The UF founded Engineering National Graduate Institutional Exchange (ENGINE) Consortium, which provides an avenue for showcasing the nation’s best and brightest undergraduate engineers and recruiting them for graduate school and other academic endeavors, greatly enhancing workforce development and new talent acquisition initiatives.
- UF’s significant veteran student population is a potential source of talent having AI expertise that is also capable of performing restricted research.
- FINS acknowledges the lack of diversity in the AI workforce and strives to provide more equitable access to applied AI techniques and skills to the diverse population of UF students toward the end of career development.
- FINS collaborates with the Inclusive Engineering Consortium (IEC) to increase the quantity and quality of African American, Hispanic and Native Americans working in AI to the end of national security. Currently, the IEC partners with twenty-one Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).
- UF is ranked #3 among institutions whose Latinx graduates go on to receive STEM PhDs, and #2nd among institutions whose African-American graduates go on to receive STEM PhDs.