AI, Defense

Modern Intelligence: One AI for Defense

by Isaac Hasson ( 2 min read )
Mar 17, 2022

We are proud to announce our Seed investment in Modern Intelligence. Modern is a new kind of defense company. It is rooted in a novel, modular, and platform-agnostic application of AI, integrating many sensors to identify objects of interest, initially for a maritime surveillance use case. We are joined in the round by our friends Geoff Lewis (Bedrock), Nathan Benaich (Air Street Capital), and Will Robbins (Contrary Capital).

Over the past decade, the U.S. Military has invested in a deluge of sensing technology intended to equip our warfighters. A rapidly proliferating number of radars, LIDARs, transponders, sonars, continuous and still images have created operational problems for personnel who must filter through these outputs manually. Much of this dysfunction is a product of how the U.S. DoD contracts for weapons systems: in an ad-hoc manner sans consistent integration standards. The result is a web of legacy systems and sensors that are not integrated and provide outputs that are not actionable. Advances in sensing are unlikely to live up to their potential unless this problem is resolved — and only great leaps in AI can solve it.

For a glimpse into the solution: “Imagine you had software that could tell you an entire story from sensor data; not only are there 20 tanks in this picture, but they’re Russian Armanta tanks, they were delivered to their current location via rail and are equipped with enough fuel and material for a long-range mission with an effective operational range of X miles.”

We’re backing founder John Dulin and his team out of deep conviction that only the best and brightest of America’s technology industry are equipped to solve this problem, not the defense primes. Senior national security leaders — like former Deputy Director of the JAIC, Jacqueline Tame, and former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ellen Lord — share our vision of building one AI for defense and are joining the company as advisors.

This is a moment of opportunity and challenge. Over the last century, the American-led world order has overseen an unprecedented expansion of prosperity and human freedom. This is not an accident but rather an outcome achieved from farsighted policy planning, the dynamism of the American private sector, and its collaboration with government and academia to ensure the U.S. maintains an advantage in critical technologies. Now more than ever, it is essential to ensure the norms surrounding the use of AI in warfare are set by free societies, not by authoritarian regimes.

As investors, we believe it has never been more possible to build a large enterprise with national security at its core — as demonstrated by Palantir, Shield, and others. This technology must be developed, and we can develop it ethically while bringing best-in-class products to the men and women who protect us. As Americans, we are moved by this team’s potential to greatly improve the security of our country and change defense as we know it.