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CITP Luncheon Speaker Series: Sharif H. Calfee – The Growing Artificial Intelligence Research & Development Divide: Bridging the Gap Between the Commercial & Academic Sectors and the U.S. Government

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd Floor Open Space
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Over the past two decades, a steadily growing divide in advanced technology research and development (R&D) has developed between the government and non-government sectors in the United States with the commercial and academic sectors on one side of the chasm and the federal government on the other side. The split emerged from a variety of cultural, economic/financial, legal, ethical and acquisition-related differences that festered and brewed over time into the ideological and philosophical fractures that exist today. This divide is felt most acutely in the AI R&D fields where the commercial and academic sectors significantly lead U.S. technological development, and unlike in past decades (specifically the World War Two, Post-World War Two and Cold War eras), there currently exists substantively less integration, cooperation and R&D sharing between the government and non-government sectors. With respect to AI in particular, there are profound U.S. national security implications to this continuing rift, which could be impactful not only to defense, but also to the national economic, academic, commercial, intelligence and law enforcement sectors as well. Google’s public break with the federal government over Project Maven in June 2018 and subsequent courting of increased commercial ties in China in August for Project Dragonfly are the most recent, salient examples of this division. This discussion will briefly review the history of the government/nongovernment sectors relationship; examine the present circumstances and impact (to include the causes, differences, etc.); explore the potential ramifications should the rift remain unrepaired; and discuss potential recommendations and opportunities to rectify.

During his one year fellowship assignment at a national security and defense policy analysis think tank in Washington, DC, Sharif Calfee had the opportunity to interview over 160 subject matter experts and conduct site visits to 50-plus Federally Funded Research & Development Centers (FFRDCs), University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), technology corporations, academic institutions and Department of Defense (DOD) research laboratories and centers for his research study. His insights from these engagements will inform the conversation. Sharif desires to cultivate a wide range of opinions on the topic from the audience and will aim to dedicate a sizable amount of the one hour luncheon to support free dialogue and exchange of ideas with attendees.


Captain Sharif Calfee is a U.S. Naval Officer and serves as a surface warfare officer. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Afloat, he most recently served as the commanding officer, USS McCAMPBELL (DDG 85), an Aegis guided missile destroyer, homeported overseas in Yokosuka, Japan. He has previously served aboard USS ELROD (FFG 55), USS GETTYSBURG (CG 64), and USS BUNKER HILL (CG 52) and has deployed throughout the world including the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, Mediterranean Sea, and Arabian Gulf, visiting over thirty countries in those regions. Ashore, Sharif was most recently selected for the Federal Executive Fellowship program and served as the U.S. Navy fellow to the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a non-partisan, national security policy analysis think-tank in Washington, D.C., where he focused on national security/defense strategy, Indo-Asia-Pacific strategy, and artificial intelligence/autonomous systems related issues. He previously served as a strategic planner on The Joint Staff, J-5 Strategic Plans & Policy Directorate where he worked closely with the State Department and Congress on counterterrorism security assistance/cooperation issues.

Sharif is the recipient of the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) 2003 Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation (MOVES) Institute George Philips Academic Excellence Award and was awarded an NPS academic fellowship for his research. He is a graduate with distinction from the U.S. Naval War College Joint Professional Military Education program, and the 2011 winner of the Admiral Halsey Tactics Award at the Surface Warfare Officer School. He received the Fall 2010 National Defense University, Joint Forces Staff College Transformation Writing Award. Sharif has authored several articles on defense policy, artificial intelligence (AI) and the intersection of both and has a forthcoming research study report on recommendations for how the U.S. Navy can accelerate AI and autonomous systems/vehicles research, development, prototyping, test & evaluation and operationalization.

After graduation from Princeton, Sharif will return to sea duty to command an Aegis guided missile cruiser.

No RSVP required for current Princeton faculty, staff, and students. Open to members of the public by invitation only.Please contact Jean Butcher at  if you are interested in attending a particular lunch.

To request accommodations for a disability, please contact Jean Butcher, , 609-258-9658 at least one week prior to the event.