For harnessing the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, Federal agencies are focusing attention on “low-hanging fruit,” or easily solvable problems, as a strategic approach to utilizing the emerging technologies.

Speaking at Nextgov’s Emerging Tech Summit today, agency leaders turned the conversation toward problem-solving and targeting the areas where the low-hanging fruit lies to generate feedback and better understand AI applications.

“Identify low-hanging fruit for AI in the department, and then go pick it,” said Greg Allen, chief of Strategy and Communications at the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

Officer Internal Revenue Service Deputy Chief Procurement Officer Harrison Smith agreed, adding that the strategy provides a way to quickly test emerging technologies and that, in turn, can help identify small areas to pivot to.

“How do I test this emerging tech … quickly?” Smith posited. “And if it doesn’t work – I can turn my attention to somewhere else,” he said about the trial-and-error process for testing AI.

Jesse Rowlands, data scientist for the Defense Logistics Agency’s Analytics Center for Excellence, had a slightly different approach to grasping at low-hanging fruit. He offered that sometimes within agencies, one can see something that looks like low-hanging fruit, but once one dives into it, it ends up being an unsolvable problem.

Rowlands added that because agency issues can be so huge and complex, management and decision-makers must be trained to identify the low-hanging fruit before it’s plucked.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.