Innovation Lab experiments with AI and EPRs

Chief Master Sgt. Ian Eishen, 9th Intelligence Squadron superintendent, illustrates a coding concept in the 548th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Innovation Lab at Beale Air Force Base, California, Jan. 3, 2018. The Innovation Lab allows Airmen a creative space to experiment with computer coding, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing technology.

Chief Master Sgt. Ian Eishen, 9th Intelligence Squadron superintendent, illustrates a coding concept in the 548th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Innovation Lab at Beale Air Force Base, California, Jan. 3, 2018. The Innovation Lab allows Airmen a creative space to experiment with computer coding, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing technology.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Schultze/Released)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The 548th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group is using Airmen’s initiative and a creative space to work with artificial intelligence and experiment with having a computer system write Enlisted Performance Reports.

Completing annual performance reports in the Air Force is typically a time-intensive process. Airmen in the 548th are beginning to test the capabilities of having AI create performance bullet statements.

“We are not looking to overhaul the EPR process here, but the subject matter is perfect for working with and testing out AI,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ian Eishen, 9th Intelligence Squadron superintendent “The nature of EPRs are that they are reoccurring and are content rich. They also tend to have repeatable patterns of speech and word usage, which lends itself to this project.”

The experiment involves loading large amounts of data from previously written EPR’s and having the system analyze that data for patterns. After millions of computations in a short time it has begun to yield recognizable speech.

This project is largely possible because of the Innovation Lab at the 548th. The room is stocked with coding computer stations, a 3D printer, and a virtual reality system that allows for Airmen at the unit to have a creative space available to them 24 hours a day. The space can be used for Air Force related work or personal development projects as well.

“It’s an opportunity to break-down barriers, and allow our guys to think in different ways then they have in the past,” said Master Sgt. Robert, 9 IS Optical Bar Camera flight chief. “There tends to be limitations on what we can and can’t do in our job, and this space allows some room for creativity and problem solving and not worrying about those limitations.”

The EPR experiment is a great example of the ideas that come about in the Innovation Lab and show the wide-ranging applications of what is dreamed up in this space.

“We see a lot of potential with this technology and allowing our Airmen to experiment with this concept. There are a lot of data entry processes throughout the Air Force that could be automated to save money and man hours,” said Eishen. “We hope that the experiments we are doing might have real world applications down the road.”