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U.S. Launches AI in Microelectronics to Improve National Security

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), issued the Microelectronics in Support of Artificial Intelligence (MicroE4AI) Seedling Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

Technology solutions for advanced computing in support of artificial intelligence will require long-term advancements in microelectronics, which will result from fostering unified and multidisciplinary research and development approaches. The goal is to advance groundbreaking technologies that will help the Intelligence Community (IC) and the country deliver on the promise of AI.

The BAA solicits proposals for developing faster, more energy-efficient, and more resilient computing tools that are of importance to the future of the national security of the United States and its leadership in artificial intelligence. The solicitation focuses on advanced engineering and applied research efforts into novel computing models, materials, architectures, and algorithms to enable the advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They are interested in research and development efforts that promote advances in microelectronic devices and circuits, and the chemistry and physics of new materials, which are aimed at overcoming challenges concerning the physical limits on transistors, electrical interconnects, and memory elements.

IARPA anticipates granting multiple seeding awards to explore and develop novel technology solutions. They invest in high-risk, high-payoff research programmes to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the IC.  The agency collaborates across the IC to ensure that their research addresses relevant future needs.

This cross-community focus ensures our ability to address cross-agency challenges, leverage both operational and R&D expertise from across the IC, and coordinate transition strategies with their agency partners. It brings the best minds in the field to bear on their research by sponsoring a full and open competition to the greatest extent possible. A research programme gets started when both a powerful research idea and an exceptional person to manage the programme are available.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the U.S. has developed and leverage AI to achieve several results. A research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) develops an online tool called CitizenHelper. This tool can sort through millions of tweets to identify behaviours that could assist emergency agencies and give them an understanding of the population’s attitudes. The tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to filter the posts and then determine the relevance and information level of each tweet.

The AI tool helps to scale work that would be difficult for humans to do alone. Humans are good at contextual understanding to filter content but they cannot scale. Machines, on the other hand, are good at scaling, but they do not deeply understand the context very well. Hence, a human-AI teaming approach is invaluable. The algorithms need humans to help them improve their accuracy. CitizenHelper allows this very seamless interactive mechanism for humans and computers. The humans can provide feedback to the machine on what the machine has predicted.

Looking at social media has a huge benefit as it gives information in real-time. Therefore, it reflects people’s behaviour as opposed to expectations of what people’s behaviours are. The research team continue to work on improving the tool and teach the AI algorithms to be more specific. When a new data point comes in and the algorithm is unsure of what to do with it, a human user can provide feedback. This is a specific type of activity called active learning in the world of machine learning and AI.

The goal is to determine whether this human-AI interaction can make a community more resilient. Volunteers trained to recognise problems can better understand what is happening in the community and what is being done about it. The AI cannot learn what the important information is without being taught by humans. However, humans will always have a role because of the context associated with emergency response and how it varies by place and time.


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