Artificial Intelligence
The next generation of AI will be capable of abstract thought and critical reasoningCreative Commons

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a part of the US Department of Defense (DoD) and is focused on futuristic, sci-fi like weapons and technology. 

The agency has now announced an Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) programme.

This programme is intended to streamline DARPA's processes for funding research and development of AI. The focus, notes a report by Futurism, is on "third wave" AI—machines that have an understanding of how they arrived at a solution and effectively explain it to its human operators.

AI can be explained as being either first or second wave. First wave AI is hard logic machines, following preset rules and coming out with predictable outcomes, consistently, every time. A chess-playing computer, for example, is a first wave AI.

Second wave AIs are machine learning programs that collect data and uses statistics to solve presented problems. These are a bit more complicated, like image recognition, or self-driving bots.

A third wave AI is the next level, notes the report. Such a system will be able to not only perform the tasks of a second wave AI, it can actually explain why it reached that conclusion. The third-wave AI can identify images, for example, an animal like a cat.

It will also be able to understand what a cat is and explain that its answer is based on the shape of the head, four legs, tail, and other features. So apart from arriving at an answer, it will be able to describe its entire thought process.

Artificial Intelligence
DARPA wants AI that can explain its thought process

John Launchbury, Director of DARPA's Information Innovation Office (I2O), said in a DARPA video that third wave AI systems need be able to learn from smaller datasets than their second wave counterparts.

For example, teaching a second wave system to read handwriting might require a data of 100,000 labelled images after which it will get better at recognising handwriting. A third wave AI will need just one or two examples that show how handwriting forms each letter. Using this information in context, it should be able to identify handwriting.

Third wave systems need to "think" instead of coming up with answers based on preset data that is fed. This would also remove the inherent bias that is programmed into the data by its creator. The new AI that can reason and even engage in abstract thought, improving how artificial intelligence is used in both civilian and defence sectors.