The US Department of Defense will put up to $2 billion towards artificial intelligence research over the next five years, the Washington Post reports. Steven Walker, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), announced the plan today at a symposium outside of Washington, DC. He said the agency wants to look into "how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities" and will fund dozens of new research projects going forward.
"This is a massive deal. It's the first indication that the United States is addressing advanced AI technology with the scale and funding and seriousness that the issue demands," Gregory Allen, an adjunct fellow with the think tank the Center for a New American Security, told the Washington Post. "We've seen China willing to devote billions to this issue, and this is the first time the US has done the same."
DARPA said it's looking to fund AI projects tackling a range of issues including security clearance vetting, reducing power needs for military machines and explainable AI, which will allow individuals to better understand the AI they're using. The move follows the recent establishment of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, created to help the Department of Defense "pursue AI applications with boldness and alacrity while ensuring a strong commitment to military ethics and AI safety."
While the Pentagon has worked with leading tech companies on its AI efforts, pushback has led some projects to be discontinued. Notably, Google's Project Maven generated outcry inside the company and it ultimately chose not to renew its contract with the Pentagon.