Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Symbiosis Technologies

Technology to facilitate more intuitive interactions between humans and machines

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Advanced materials are increasingly embodying counterintuitive properties, such as extreme strength and super lightness, while additive manufacturing and other new technologies are vastly improving the ability to fashion these novel materials into shapes that would previously have been extremely costly or even impossible to create. Generating new designs that fully exploit these properties, however, has proven extremely challenging.
DARPA today announced its Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program, a key component of the agency’s broader artificial intelligence (AI) investment strategy aimed at ensuring the United States maintains an advantage in this critical and rapidly accelerating technology area. AIE will constitute a series of unique funding opportunities that use streamlined contracting procedures and funding mechanisms to achieve a start date within three months of an opportunity announcement.
Throughout DARPA’s history, artificial intelligence (AI) has been an important area of groundbreaking research and development (R&D). In the 1960s, DARPA researchers completed some of the foundational work in the field, leading to the creation of expert systems, or the first wave of AI technologies. Since then, DARPA has funded developments in the second wave of AI – machine learning – which has significantly impacted defense and commercial capabilities in areas such as speech understanding, self-driving cars, and image recognition.
Current AI systems excel at tasks defined by rigid rules – such as mastering the board games Go and chess with proficiency surpassing world-class human players. However, AI systems aren’t very good at adapting to constantly changing conditions commonly faced by troops in the real world – from reacting to an adversary’s surprise actions, to fluctuating weather, to operating in unfamiliar terrain. For AI systems to effectively partner with humans across a spectrum of military applications, intelligent machines need to graduate from closed-world problem solving within confined boundaries to open-world challenges characterized by fluid and novel situations.
The inability of artificial intelligence (AI) to represent and model human partners is the single biggest challenge preventing effective human-machine teaming today. Current AI agents are able to respond to commands and follow through on instructions that are within their training, but are unable to understand intentions, expectations, emotions, and other aspects of social intelligence that are inherent to their human counterparts. This lack of understanding stymies efforts to create safe, efficient, and productive human-machine collaboration.