detailed 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.
Researchers will then work to establish the feasibility of new AI
concepts within 18 months of award. Through this nimble approach to
exploring new AI concepts, DARPA aims to outpace competing, global AI
science and technology discovery efforts.
“DARPA has established a streamlined process to push the state of the
art in AI through regular and relatively short-term technology
development projects,” said Peter Highnam, DARPA Deputy Director. “The
intent is to get researchers on contract quickly to test the value and
feasibility of innovative concepts. Where we’re successful, individual
projects could lead to larger research and development programs spurring
major AI breakthroughs.”
AIE is an agency-wide program, based on the successful
“Disruptioneering” fast-tracked solicitation process pioneered by
DARPA’s Defense Science Office, which supports a variety of technology
development concepts. As with Disruptioneering, AIE will periodically
issue special notices, known as “AIE Opportunities,” tied to topics of
interest. The simplified proposal, contracting, and funding process
makes it even easier for individuals and organizations to contribute to
DARPA’s mission. AIE awards may be worth up to $1 million each, as
described in each AIE Opportunity.
continues DARPA’s five-decade streak of pioneering groundbreaking
research and development in AI. Past DARPA investments facilitated the
advancement of “first wave” (rule-based) and “second wave”
(statistical-learning-based) AI technologies. DARPA-funded projects
enabled some of the first successes in AI, such as expert systems and
search, and more recently the agency has advanced machine learning
algorithms and hardware.
DARPA is now interested in researching and developing “third wave” AI
theory and applications that address the limitations of first and second
wave technologies by making it possible for machines to contextually
adapt to changing situations. The agency’s diverse portfolio of
fundamental and applied AI research programs is aimed at shaping a
future in which AI-enabled machines serve as trusted, collaborative
partners in solving problems of importance to national security.
AIE Opportunities will focus on “third wave” theory and applications of
AI. The projects pursued may include proofs of concept; pilots; novel
applications of commercial technologies for defense purposes; creation,
design, development, and demonstration of technical or operational
utility; or combinations of the foregoing.
This announcement lays out the framework of the AIE program. Forthcoming
AIE Opportunities will be published on the FedBizOpps website under
Program Announcement DARPA-PA-18-02.