US defense agency DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) announced a multi-year strategy seeking contextual reasoning in AI systems to create more trusting, collaborative partnerships between humans and machines. Called the “AI Next” campaign, it covers more than $2 billion for new and existing programs.
DARPA is currently pursuing more than 20 programs that are exploring ways to advance AI, pushing beyond second-wave machine learning techniques towards 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.
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.
As part of this, the Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program, announced in July, constitutes 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. Leveraging 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.