Last week DARPA announced a comprehensive multi-year strategy to develop contextual reasoning in AI systems to create more trusting, collaborative partnerships between humans and machines.
Starting in the 1960s, DARPA research shaped the first wave of AI technologies, which focused on handcrafted knowledge, or rule-based systems capable of narrowly defined tasks. While a critical step forward for the field, these systems were fragile and limited. Later in the 1990s, DARPA helped advance a second wave of AI machine learning technologies that created statistical pattern recognizers from large amounts of data.
Through DARPA funding, the progress of natural language understanding, problem-solving, navigation and perception technologies led to the creation of self-driving cars, personal assistants, and near-natural prosthetics, in addition to a plethora of critical and valuable military and commercial applications. However, these second wave AI technologies are dependent on large amounts of high quality training data, do not adapt to changing conditions, offer limited performance guarantees, and are unable to provide users with explanations of their results, DARPA explained in a release.
To address the limitations of these first and second wave AI technologies, DARPA aims to explore new theories and applications that could make it possible for machines to adapt to changing situations. DARPA sees this next generation of AI as a third wave of technological advance, one of contextual adaptation.
To better reach its objectives, DARPA announced a multi-year investment of more than $2 billion in new and existing programs called the “AI Next” campaign. Agency director, Dr. Steven Walker, officially unveiled the large-scale effort during closing remarks Sept. 7 at DARPA’s D60 Symposium taking place Wednesday through Friday at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
DARPA is conducting more than 20 programs that are exploring ways to advance the state-of-the-art in AI, pushing beyond second-wave machine learning techniques toward contextual reasoning capabilities. In addition, more than 60 active programs are applying AI in some capacity, from agents collaborating to share electromagnetic spectrum bandwidth to detecting and patching cyber vulnerabilities. Over the next 12 months, DARPA plans to issue multiple Broad Agency Announcements for new programs that advance the state of the art in AI.
Under AI Next, key areas to be explored may include automating critical DoD business processes, such as security clearance vetting in a week or accrediting software systems in one day for operational deployment; improving the robustness and reliability of AI systems; enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies; reducing power, data, and performance inefficiencies; and pioneering the next generation of AI algorithms and applications, such as “explainability” and commonsense reasoning, DARPA said.
In addition to DARPA’s new and existing robust research efforts, a key component of the campaign will be DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program, first announced in July 2018. “In today’s world of fast-paced technological advancement, we must work to expeditiously create and transition projects from idea to practice,” said DARPA director, Dr. Steven Walker.
To this end, AIE establishes a series of high-risk, high-payoff projects where researchers will work to establish the feasibility of new AI concepts within 18 months of award. Using streamlined contracting procedures and funding mechanisms will enable these efforts to move from proposal to project kick-off within three months of an opportunity announcement, DARPA stated.
For more information about AI Next, please visit: http://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/ai-next-campaign.