The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a division of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies. To put this into perspective, this 60-year-old agency proposed and prototyped the precursor to the world wide web. This interesting information came to us from Venture Beat in their article, “DARPA wants to build ‘contextual’ AI that understands the world.”

There is a long list of accolades to follow that includes developing an interactive mapping solution akin to Google Maps, designing a unique personal assistant — Personal Assistant That Learns (PAL) — that predated Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa by decades, and more.

However, it is also one of the birthplaces of machine learning, a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. It is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention.

One area of their study is “common sense AI” — AI that can draw on environmental cues and an understanding of the world to reason like a human. The agency recently pledged to invest $2 billion in AI over the next five years.

Melody K. Smith

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