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CHIPS Articles: Top scientists, experts converge for Navy’s artificial intelligence/machine learning workshop

Top scientists, experts converge for Navy’s artificial intelligence/machine learning workshop
By Patric Petrie, lead staff writer, SSC Pacific - January-March 2018
Point Loma was one of the hot spots to be for a contingent of more than 350 artificial intelligence and machine learning subject matter experts during the Second Annual Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning, Feb. 13-15, 2018.

The Navy-hosted workshop was held at the Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) in San Diego. The three-day event featured verbal and poster presentations on technical topics including autonomy, computer vision and cybersecurity. The unclassified workshop offered a venue to bring together diverse interests to share their work and ideas on how best to harness the power of machine learning to solve some of the Navy’s toughest challenges. Participation included members of the Department of Defense (DoD) and intelligence communities, as well as from industry and academia.

Machine learning is a set of methods and technologies that underlie artificial intelligence, and is a key enabler to the technical vision of SSC Pacific, the Navy and the DoD.

The U.S. Navy is working to improve operations by connecting its fleets and strategic locations using artificial intelligence. AI isn’t necessarily intended for weaponization; however, it does factor into the ongoing debate surrounding the use of AI in military systems.

While the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms have been achieving impressive results in many different applications, these algorithms are often criticized as being “black boxes,” meaning that they provide no insight into how they came up with the correct answer. An example of an explanation might be why a particular route is selected by an autonomous vehicle, or why an algorithm determined that there is a target of interest in a scene.

SSC Pacific researchers have been engaged in machine learning research for decades. As the number of potential applications of machine learning has exploded in recent years, SSC Pacific has sought to build a community to bring machine learning experts together with Navy applications and data. The workshop served as a showcase for some of the many research efforts currently underway within the Naval Research and Development Enterprise and beyond.

Topics and capabilities discussed included: computer vision, autonomy, big data analysis, deep learning, natural language processing, and operational applications such as electronic warfare. Discussion sessions allowed attendees to meet in smaller groups to discuss their work and form collaborations in areas such as cybersecurity and biomedical research.

Representatives at the event included keynote speakers from the Naval Research Laboratory and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD(I)), as well as presenters from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD); National Geospatial –Intelligence Agency; the Army Research Laboratory; MIT Lincoln Laboratory; the University of California, San Diego; Technologico de Monterrey (Mexico); Intel and Mitre.

SSC Pacific speakers discussed “Applications of Machine Learning with V-22 Operational Data” and “Biologically-inspired Algebraic Topology for Machine Learning.” Sister command SSC Atlantic speakers focused on “Measuring the Confidence of Sentiment Analysis Results on Social Media Data;” “Classification of Network Transactions using Recurrent Neural Networks,” and “Feature Selection for High-Dimensional Class Imbalanced Data.”

Dr. Katie Rainey, co-lead for the workshop and an SSC Pacific mathematician, said the number of attendees reflected the importance of AI/machine learning to industry, academia and military and also the keen interest of subject matter experts to network and share their findings.

"We are so proud of the overwhelming response we have gotten this year,” Rainey said. “We were able to put together an excellent technical agenda to show off a wide range of machine learning research in support of Navy needs. This allowed people to meet people with similar interests to their own or to learn about research that could support their programs."

The goals of NAML are: (1) To spread awareness of current machine learning research relevant to Navy applications; (2) to connect machine learning researchers with experts in Navy needs and requirements; and (3) to build and strengthen collaborations within the DoD research community.

A landmark naval research facility in San Diego for more than 75 years, SSC Pacific is home to more than 4,700 scientists, researchers, and engineers, and is a member of an exclusive team of research labs that make up the Department of Defense’s biggest brain trust.

SSC Pacific's mission: To conduct research, development, engineering, and support of integrated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, and space systems across all warfighting domains, and to rapidly prototype, conduct test and evaluation, and provide acquisition, installation, and in-service engineering support.

Technical Director Lee Zimmerman gave the opening address for the Second Annual Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning, Feb. 13, 2018. Photo by Alan Antczak
Technical Director Lee Zimmerman gave the opening address for the Second Annual Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning, Feb. 13, 2018. Photo by Alan Antczak

SAN DIEGO, (Feb 15, 2018) SSC Pacific's Justin Mauger, scientist, speaks on Topological Data Analysisand Spiking Neural Nets Demo during the Second Annual SSC Pacific Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning (NAML) at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific. Photo by Alan Antczak/Released
SAN DIEGO, (Feb 15, 2018) SSC Pacific's Justin Mauger, scientist, speaks on Topological Data Analysisand Spiking Neural Nets Demo during the Second Annual SSC Pacific Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning (NAML) at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific. Photo by Alan Antczak/Released

SAN DIEGO, (Feb 15, 2018) SSC Pacific's Joe Drobick, IT specialist, speaks during a break out session of the Navy Collaboration Tools Demonstration during the Second Annual SSC Pacific Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning (NAML) at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific. Photo by Alan Antczak/Released
SAN DIEGO, (Feb 15, 2018) SSC Pacific's Joe Drobick, IT specialist, speaks during a break out session of the Navy Collaboration Tools Demonstration during the Second Annual SSC Pacific Workshop on Naval Applications of Machine Learning (NAML) at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific. Photo by Alan Antczak/Released
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