Dr Dan “Animal” Javorsek, Col, USAF (ret), is currently the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at EpiSys Science, Inc (EpiSci), a small Artificial Intelligence start-up building trusted, modular, and scalable autonomy warfighters can rely on. Dr Javorsek joined EpiSci following a 24-year career that culminated as the Commander of Detachment 6, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC), Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Director, F-35 United Operational Test Team (UOTT). AFOTEC’s Detachment 6 plans, conducts, and reports on realistic, objective, and impartial operational test and evaluation of fighter aircraft. The detachment evaluates the operational effectiveness, suitability, and cyber resilience of the A-10, F-15C/E/EX, F-16, F-22, F-35, and Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) Family of Systems (FoS) aircraft including Penetrating Counter Air (PCA) and Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) acquisition programs. Finally, Detachment 6 reports results in support of major acquisition program milestone decisions and combatant command fielding decisions for all fighter aircraft.
Prior to assuming his final command role, Colonel Javorsek was a Program Manager in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO). His research and development programs were tied to the development of key technologies required to realize Mosaic Warfare and Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) applied to combat systems. From sensor resource management in the Converged Collaborative Elements for Radio Frequency Task Operations (CONCERTO), to aircraft maneuver in the highly publicized AlphaDogfight Trials and the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program, to Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) in the Adapting Cross-domain Kill-webs (ACK) program, he has diligently pursued the democratization of software that prevents vendor lock and exposes the latent capability to adapt resident within the existing warfighting system.
In a previous command role, he served as a Squadron Commander and the Director of a Combined Test Force conducting high-priority Next Generation Air Dominance flight tests of unique experimental aircraft. Colonel Javorsek received his commission from Purdue University Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1999, where he was a distinguished graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering summa cum laude. He holds several science and engineering graduate degrees including a PhD in Physics. He is a command pilot with more than 2,000 flying hours and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Class 07B. His prior operational and flight test assignments include service in the 523rd Fighter Squadron at Cannon AFB, NM where he was an F-16 Instructor Pilot and Mission Commander; 445th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, CA where he was an F-16 Instructor Pilot and Scheduler; 416th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, CA where he was an F-16 Experimental Test Pilot and Evaluator Pilot; 411th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, CA where he was an F-22 Experimental Test Pilot; and tours as a Director of Operations and Wing Chief of Safety where his aircraft and activities were highly classified and critical to national security.
Dr Javorsek’s major awards include the Lark-Horowitz Prize in Physics, the Legion of Merit Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Liethen-Tittle Award, the Aaron C. “C-Dot” George Award, the 523rd Fighter Squadron Overall TopGun of the Year award, the Daedalians Exceptional Pilot award, the Intelligence Research award, and many more. He has over a hundred conference and journal publications along with one patent on a rocket engine modification he developed as an undergraduate student. In his personal time, Dan enjoys horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains with his wife Eleanor and their two daughters, Mary Charlotte and Amelia.
“Tools to Teammates: Cognitive Augmentation in the 21st Century”
For millennia trust has served as the currency of collaborative combat operations. As with many disciplines, combat tactics typically evolve gradually in response to the introduction of ever-improving combat systems. However, occasionally transformational emerging technologies encounter unanticipated resistance from precisely those it is intended to benefit. When poorly introduced, such technologies fundamentally threaten the heritage, honor, values, and dignity of those sacrificing to accomplish the mission.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and autonomy represent precisely this kind of technology. In addition to challenging the warfighter ethos conditioned by deterministic kit that they are at apex of human creativity and intuition, AI algorithms often lack the transparency and stochastic nature of the trusted, legacy systems they replace. In what follows, I outline lessons learned from ongoing research efforts to operationalize AI for air combat. We learn that trust plays a critical role as America transitions combat systems from “Tools to Teammates” and many important lessons can be derived from unexpected disciplines.
By analyzing the partnerships formed in teams working with animals such as horses or dogs, we find optimal performance is achieved when the relationship reaches a state of symbiotic harmony between very different, but complementary, teammates. By modeling and measuring pilot trust of AI wingmen in increasingly complex scenarios, researchers minimize the cultural resistance to this transformational emerging technology. The method of co-evolving the tactics with the technology to minimize friction at the interface and elevate the symbiotic performance of this human-AI team is extensible to applications well beyond air combat.
“It’s About Time: Three Laws at the Center of the Modern Combat Revolution” is about exposing latent capabilities in the 21st Century
“The Military Entertainment Complex: Non-traditional Modeling and Simulation for DOD” is about the often overlooked and underutilized role of video games and movies
“Data as a Weapon: Accelerate Change or Lose” is about the increasing importance of data-driven decisions and the shift from capabilities to outcomes
“Mosaic Warfare Lecture Series” is a week-long series of lectures on Low Observable (Stealth) aircraft design and other emerging technologies shaping the future of combat
“Human-AI Harmony” expands on the lessons to be learned from inter-species biological teams such as humans teaming with horses and dogs
“Artificial Intelligence and the Future of War: Trust, Ethics and AI,” thinking about the implications of networked, collaborative, autonomous weapons