The Pentagon on Friday announced it would spend more than $2 billion over the next five years to advance the foundations of artificial intelligence technology.
Through the AI Next initiative, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency aims to bring about so-called “third wave” AI, tools capable of human-like communication and contextual reasoning that far surpass the abilities of today’s most advanced machine-learning and AI technology.
The massive investment comes as global powers like China pour significant resources into their own artificial intelligence R&D programs.
“I’m proud to tell you DARPA plans to continue and increase its support for AI research, with a significant focus on the technologies that underpin a third wave of AI,” said DARPA Director Steven Walker in the announcement at the agency’s 60th anniversary conference. “Let’s … double down and commit to ensuring our country continues to create technological surprise for many more years and continues to use that surprise for a better and more secure world.”
DARPA currently runs more than 20 programs to advance artificial intelligence and more than 60 others that explore ways the technology can bolster cybersecurity, share the electromagnetic spectrum and enable other breakthroughs. Under AI Next, the agency will spend the next year significantly expanding that portfolio.
Today, DARPA spends about $300 million annually on its AI endeavors, and AI Next would increase funding by another $100 million per year beginning in fiscal 2019, according to DARPA Chief of Communications Jared Adams.
The Pentagon’s research arm is looking for teams to build an artificial intelligence tool that can automatically generate, test and refine its own scientific hypotheses. By essentially automating steps of the scientific process, the tool would let top decision-makers take discoveries from the lab and rapidly apply them to the real world, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Futurists are inclined to predict a world in which AI (artificial intelligence) will take over a major portion of what is now human activity. In a matter of decades, for example, they say one computer will have more capacity than all the human brains on the planet put together. Then, the prediction goes, AI will be virtually human, or more than human.
The program makes boarding an international flight a breeze: Passengers step up to the gate, get their photo taken and proceed onto the plane. There is no paper ticket or airline app. Thanks to facial recognition technology, their face becomes their boarding pass. “I would find it superconvenient if I could use my face at the gate,” said Jonathan Frankle, an artificial intelligence researcher at M.I.T. studying facial recognition technology. But “the concern is, what else could that data be used for?”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) latest creation of the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program, a new class of algorithms for quick drone navigation in cluttered environments, reminds us of the 2013 American post-apocalyptic science fiction film, Oblivion.
Artificial Intelligence is no longer a sci-fi vision of the future. We are living in a world where AI is disrupting industry and society at large in truly transformative ways. From chat bots reinventing customer service performace to machines such as IBM’s Watson beating some of the most intelligent human beings to ever live, artificial intelligence is altering everything from the biggest technological innovations to the simplest of tasks we perform on a daily basis.
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