Pentagon Spending $2 Billion to Develop Next-Generation AI

in technology •  5 months ago

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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into out brains to make us "smarter"

Did you laugh when typing this part, lol. They seem to prefer us to be not so smart.

This whole thing is creepy and thinking either it is a scam to trick people into brain chips, or they are really stupid enough to try to build something that can be autonomous while making lightning quick decisions coldly.

Oh, man. This is a really bad idea, so bad. I cannot begin to even explain how bad this is, holy crap. This is why people like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have been speaking out against AI. Even Stephen Hawking was speaking out against AI, it is because they probably knew things we didn't (like advancements in military AI).

They always say the military is ten years ahead technologically. Given we are already seeing incredible advancements in artificial intelligence, the result is going to be scary.


Yeah, scifi has been warning us for decades. The military has been doing robots and mech-suits for lifting for a few years. Not sure if it's deployed anywhere...

Even if the ethics of AI get to a point where people can trust it and use it, that still only applies to us not them. Us being the citizens and peons in their eyes and them being the government and ruling elite. They will break the ethics "rules" quicker than anyone could imagine. They break the current ethics rules now!

It's amusing though that they are trying to say that China investing heavily into AI doesn't affect their decision to. What a load of crap.

I do agree with you though; they need to advance the AI comprehension of situations rather than just analytics. There are millions of possibilities that can happen but there are also other factors that these AI programs cannot take into consideration such as morals and what is morally correct.


The values and moral code of a machine are only as good as the programmers programming ;) Either moral code is applied voluntarily by conscious being, like animals can so varying degrees with humans having the most potential to do so, or it's applied/imposed by others, like a society, authority or programmer. Rulers certainly are a bad authority to set the rules for AI and AI governance they want to set up lol.

Let me just switch this next level AI on here, annnnd humanity's destroyed.

Your closing says it all.
Does DARPA have a good track record with getting ethics and values right?
Someone make those people watch Ex Machina.


Yup, Skynet and so many sci-fi greats that show our downfall. The latest being Upgrade. Well, DARPA got the internetstarted, so wo0ot!

I've played through an RTS game several times called Supreme Commander. In it, the Arm and Core forces are locked in an eternal war.

The Core is an AI singularity. Everyone's consciousness pretty much lives inside the Matrix.

The Arm consists of the human resistance. They clone their soldiers like Storm Troopers in order to have enough meat for the grinder.

It's crazy how close science fiction gets to meeting reality. 1984 here we come. Although maybe Brave New World is more accurate.


1984 + Brave New World + Terminator :P

Excellent post I hope it is used in favor of good and peace, and not with warlike finesses. A great advance for humanity and I hope that it can be adopted massively. But do we truly believe that humanity is ready for a change of this magnitude in the coming years? or do we still have a lot to light as a society?


Yeah, it's pretty dreamy for it to stay perfectly beneficial ...

Wont mean anything, when the dollar collapses and the grid starts failing because nobody is paying anybody to keep the nuclear plants running and suddenly the us is thrown into a complete state of chaos plunging economically into the 3rd world country its positioned itself to be.


Yeah unless that's all part of the plan because they created AI to replace us as the slaves. They no longer need us; let us fight it out Thunderdome style.


We all should have the right to carry emp’s then eh


LOL... well that's one potential... The plants can meltdown and we have nuclear fallout :/

Good topic. Did u see Elon Musk one the Joe rogan podcast? He goes deep into his fears about AI, and very warranted fears at that


Thanks, no I don't watch/listen to Joe Rogan, but I heard about his pot smoking ;)


Haha... just like Obama, Musk never inhaled 😉

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another article making the case for a money free society, I am afraid


How's that? I think the future of automation, AI and basic income fit together indeed, but not that it's the best direction to go in :/


I am simply very negative about the intent behind AI and we spend so much on war already...

que bueno

Both exciting and terrifying news.

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Allowing machines to take over human duties to carry out military analysis and make decisions related to weapons that can injure or even kill other people is a controversial act


Yes it is...