DARPA, the US Defense Department’s research arm, will spend $2 billion over the next five years on military AI projects.
Is that a lot? That depends. In the realm of AI research, it’s a huge chunk of change—China, for example, made waves earlier this year when it announced it was putting a similar amount of money behind an AI-focused research park in Beijing. The Pentagon, though, functions on a different scale—$2 billion isn’t quite enough to buy 20 of its shiny new F-35 fighter jets.
The focus: The initiative, announced Friday, is being billed as a way to form better partnerships between machines and humans. DARPA said new projects will focus on things like security clearance vetting, improving the reliability of AI systems, and exploring explainable AI. Notably absent from the press release: any mention of autonomous weapons.
The subtext: The new funding comes in the wake of strong Silicon Valley pushback against working on military AI programs (see “Google won’t renew its military AI contract”). Some researchers are taking the announcement as DARPA saying, in effect, that if Google won’t accept its money, that’s no problem. It’ll find someone else that will.
This article first appeared in The Download, our daily tech newsletter. Sign up here.
Why Meta’s latest large language model survived only three days online
Galactica was supposed to help scientists. Instead, it mindlessly spat out biased and incorrect nonsense.
DeepMind’s game-playing AI has beaten a 50-year-old record in computer science
The new version of AlphaZero discovered a faster way to do matrix multiplication, a core problem in computing that affects thousands of everyday computer tasks.
A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing
Online videos are a vast and untapped source of training data—and OpenAI says it has a new way to use it.
The White House just unveiled a new AI Bill of Rights
It's the first big step to hold AI to account.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.