DARPA Building “Common Sense” Into AI

Powerful AI fails in ways humans would not

Image Credits: Chicago Tribune / Contributor / Getty.

Coding “common sense” into artificial intelligence systems is currently a major goal for DARPA.

Interestingly, this objective is best described by getting AI to respond to new situations the way a human would, said the agency’s Defense Sciences Office director Valerie Browning to Nextgov.

“There’s a certain ability to recognize new situations, behave appropriately in new situations, [and] recognize when maybe you don’t have enough experience or training to actually function in a predictable or appropriate way for new situations,” said Browning. “We need to be able to build AI systems that have that sort of common sense wired in.”

“We need AI systems that do have some ability for introspection, so when given a task they could communicate to their partner ‘based on my training and my experience, you should have confidence in me that I could do this’ or ‘I’ve not encountered this situation before and I can’t … Perform in the way you’d like me to in this situation.’”

Brown provided an example: both a human and a machine can identify an image of a panda, but after changing a few pixels – an amount that a person wouldn’t notice – the machine would fail to identify it correctly.

“Machine learning-enabled AI does certain tasks quite well—image classification, voice recognition, natural language processing, statistical pattern recognition—but we also know AI can fail quite spectacularly in unexpected ways.”

Building “common sense reasoning” into the next generation of AI is specifically mentioned in the agency’s $2 billion campaign, AI Next, that is part of the White House’s AI strategy competing with China.

America’s race to dominate AI advancement comes on the heels of a report claiming China is projected to lead the world in AI research due to an “attractive research environment” luring AI researchers into China.

To combat this, the agency has taken up “unprecedented government contracting” allowing for “high-risk” gains in the field.

Currently, China’s Communist regime is using artificial intelligence in tandem with mass surveillance to control its billions of denizens via the infamous social credit system.


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