Lyft’s Expert in Machine Learning to Lead Pentagon’s New AI Office

The Pentagon will increase percentages paid to contractors.

Craig Martell, the head of machine learning for Lyft, is joining the Pentagon to be the leader of its new data and artificial intelligence office, Bloomberg reported Monday (April 25).

The report said Martell is a former professor of computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School who has also worked for Dropbox and LinkedIn.

Bloomberg wrote that his appointment will help the department move forward with “warfighting concepts and capabilities.”

“With Craig’s appointment, we hope to see the department increase the speed at which we develop and field advances in AI, data analytics and machine-learning technology,” Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary of defense, said in a statement. “He brings cutting-edge industry experience to apply to our unique mission set.”

This comes as the Pentagon has been criticized over its slow pace of technological modernization, with numerous departing defense officials saying the Department of Defense is behind compared to the U.S. commercial sector, and might also fall behind China on  AI and other technologies.

David Spirk, who resigned as chief data officer for the Pentagon, said he was “bullish” on the new office, which he thought could help boost efforts to get more data-driven technologies for defense, and to stay ahead of China.

Bloomberg wrote that Martell, working as head of machine learning for Lyft, was in charge of things like algorithms to underpin pricing, dispatch and fraud detection.

See also: Lockheed Ends $4.4B Deal to Acquire Aerojet After Regulators Challenged Transaction

PYMNTS wrote that after a lawsuit to stop Lockheed Martin’s acquisition of the last independent U.S. missile propulsion supplier, Lockheed terminated the deal.

Lockheed said it was looking into buying Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, a California company making rocket, hypersonic and electric propulsive systems for space and defense.

The FTC filed a lawsuit in response, saying that if the deal closed, Lockheed might use its control of Aerojet to hurt competing defense contractors, consolidating other markets.