The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is set to invest more than $2bn in new and existing artificial intelligence (AI) programmes.

Called the ‘AI Next’ campaign, the multi-year strategy focuses on contextual reasoning in AI systems in order to develop more trusting collaborations between humans and machines.

Defined as the third wave of technological advance, the next-generation of AI intends to explore new theories and applications that would enable the machines to adapt to changing situations.

DARPA director Dr Steven Walker said: “With AI Next, we are making multiple research investments aimed at transforming computers from specialised tools to partners in problem-solving.

“Today, machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible.

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“With AI Next, we are making multiple research investments aimed at transforming computers from specialised tools to partners in problem-solving.”

“We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognise new situations and environments and adapt to them.”

Major areas to be explored include automating the critical business processes of the US Department of Defense (DoD), enhancing the robustness and reliability of AI systems, and increasing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies.

The programme also intends to focus on reducing power, data and performance inefficiencies, and developing the next generation of AI algorithms and applications, such as explainability and common sense reasoning.

Furthermore, the AI Next campaign will also involve DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) programme, which was first announced in July this year.

The AIE programme comprises a number of high-risk, high-payoff projects, under which researchers will focus on establishing the feasibility of new AI concepts within one and a half years of the campaign.