Robert O. Work, the veteran defense official retained as deputy secretary by President Trump, calls them his “A.I. dudes.” The breezy moniker belies their serious task: The dudes have been a kitchen cabinet of sorts, and have advised Mr. Work as he has sought to reshape warfare by bringing artificial intelligence to the battlefield.
Last spring, he asked, “O.K., you guys are the smartest guys in A.I., right?”
No, the dudes told him, “the smartest guys are at Facebook and Google,” Mr. Work recalled in an interview.