Capt. Michael J. Kanaan, Air Force Artificial Intelligence co-chair, believes the Air Force needs more computer language experts in order to maintain dominance.

Kanaan said the languages of artificial intelligence algorithms can, and should, be taught to Airmen as a mission-critical skill, just like Mandarin, Spanish or Arabic.

Capt. Michael J. Kanaan, Air Force Artificial Intelligence co-chair, believes the Air Force needs more computer language experts in order to maintain dominance. Video // Andrew Breese

“The languages of computers themselves are as critically significant to the needs of the (Defense Department) as much as any of these traditionally viewed, non-native languages,” Kanaan says. “Python, Java, C++; they all have their unique vocabulary and sets of grammatical and construct rules, just like any other language.”

The same types of aptitude tests administered to determine the Airmen most suited to learn a foreign language can be used to find those with an aptitude for coding.

Kanaan believes Airmen across the force, fluent in the language of artificial intelligence, will soon be creating algorithms working in the background to crunch huge amounts of data produced by almost every Air Force mission.

By democratizing AI education, he envisions an entire force of individual Airmen who are able to code solutions to their own mission problems.