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If you have a problem, if no one else can help – and if you can find them – maybe you can hire DARPA's A-Teams

AI pity the fool

By Katyanna Quach, 29 Nov 2016

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research arm of the US military, has today announced a new program aimed at using AI to bring together skills from humans and machines to solve problems more effectively.

The use of AI is seeping through to all areas of technology, including the military. But don’t worry, there aren’t any fully autonomous weapons and the program – Agile Teams (A-Teams) – isn’t interested in them anyway.

“A-Teams is focused not on developing new AI technologies per se, but on developing a framework for optimizing the use of smart machines in various roles together with humans to ensure optimal human-machine teamwork for solving dynamic problems,” said John Paschkewitz, DARPA program manager.

“Given an uncertain environment and fluid team structure, how does one best use combined human and machine capabilities to make wise decisions? Are there generalizable mathematical abstractions to capture the dynamic interactions of problem space, team structure, and performance? These are the kinds of questions we intend to answer in the program.”

DARPA will focus on using mathematical models to design hybrid teams where humans and machines collaborate together to take action based on automated insights and decisions made by “intelligent machines.”

A-Teams won’t just be used during combat. DARPA is also interested in using it for “scientific and drug discovery, software engineering, logistics planning, advanced hardware engineering, and intelligence forecasting.”

It’s a bit fuzzy as to how the agency will do this, and more details will be provided about the program on A-Teams Proposers Day. On December 7, people can learn more about the products and services of the program in a webcast on FedBizOpps.

To kickstart A-Teams, DARPA is looking for experts in “mathematics, organizational theory, operations research, planning and scheduling, cognitive science, human factors, autonomy, and citizen science.”

It’s not the first time that DARPA has been interested in AI. It launched the Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) program earlier this year, which focuses on making the decision process behind AI more transparent and understandable. The agency also sponsored the world’s first hacking tournament between AI software in the Cyber Grand Challenge this year. ®

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