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Pentagon Spending $2 Billion to Develop Next-Generation AI


9 months agoSteemit5 min read

The Pentagon is going hard into AI, as it will spend over $2 billion to work on developing the next-generation of AI over the next 5 years. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is part of the AI Next initiative working to bring a "third wave" of AI capable of human-like communication and reasoning that surpasses the current machine-learning and AI technology.

flickr/Mike MacKenzie, CC BY 2.0

"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. 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."

The U.S. wants to get more involved in the development of AI, as China has been massively investing into AI R&D of their own. Futurists have speculated that the governments and nations that will be more successful, out-compete and dominate others are those that will be at the forefront of AI utilization.

China foresees a $150 billion domestic industry for itself by 2030. The Chinese city of Tianjin is establishing a $16 billion fund for the AI industry, and the Beijing government is working to build a $2 billion AI research park. DARPA Director Steven Walker says China's push into AI has no bearing on the new DARPA initiative.

"I knew coming into this job artificial intelligence was going to be an area I wanted to prioritize. We have elevated the priority, but I think it’s more because of the promise of what the technology holds than what anybody else is doing."

DARPA has over 20 programs running to advance AI, and over 60 to improve cybersecurity. AI Next will expand these initiatives. The current DARPA funding for AI endeavors is at $300 million per year. AI Next would see an additional $100 million in funding added per year beginning in 2019.

The current AI capabilities are excellent for image classification and predictive analytics. But they lack common-sense reasoning to understand and describe the world. This is mocked in many TV shows and movies about Alexa or Siri. They don't understand some questions that are out of their scope of human comprehension.

Some projects are being developed to have AI act as a companion or helper, some programs are dubbed as a "second self" to provide additional data about a situation someone is in. This can range from playing chess to feed information on best strategies, driving a car or giving a speech. Crunching data is not enough, but providing novel insights is desired.

Another point of interest is in making AI tools transparent in how they function. The AI Next program will study AI ethics and values as it seeks to integrate AI more into the human world. This is important as we become more reliant on technology, especially when we hand over control of aspects of our lives that have consequences involved. This isn't only for self-driving cars or assistant robots, but the sought-after goal of AI governance to manage and control human activity.

Another initiative that started in July is AI Exploration that funds projects which explore high-risk high-rewards AI applications. Automating Scientific Knowledge Extraction is one such endeavor that aims to take over the scientific process and put it in the hands of AI. They want to build AI to generate, test and refine their own hypothesis and surpass human scientific investigation and research. Future scientists could come in the form of computer code, maybe supplanting humans, only leaving us the "dirty work" of doing experiments on it's behalf when needed.

Futurists have big plans for AI, from integrating AI into national weaponry for cyber weapons, into our brains to make us "smarter", to a dissolution of humanity into an AI "singularity" as we merge with AI into an amalgamated "oneness". I hope they really get the ethics and values part right, or else I fear for the future of humanity.


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