DARPA posts Machine Common Sense BAA
On October 19, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency posted a funding opportunity entitled Machine Common Sense. Abstracts are due by noon ET on November 6, and proposals are due by noon ET on December 18.
DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of machine common sense to enable Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications to understand new situations, monitor the reasonableness of their actions, communicate more effectively with people, and transfer learning to new domains. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.
Machine common sense has long been a critical—but missing—component of AI. Recent advances in machine learning have resulted in exciting new capabilities, but machine reasoning remains narrow and highly specialized. Developers must carefully train or program systems for every situation. General machine common sense remains elusive.
Wikipedia defines common sense as, the basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that are shared by (“common to”) nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without need for debate. It is common sense that helps us quickly answer the question, “can an elephant fit through the doorway?”; or understand the statement, “I saw the Grand Canyon flying to New York.” The vast majority of common sense is typically not expressed by humans because there is no need to state the obvious. We are usually not conscious of the vast sea of commonsense assumptions that underlie every statement and every action. This unstated background knowledge includes: a general understanding of how the physical world works (i.e., intuitive physics); a basic understanding of human motives and behaviors (i.e., intuitive psychology); and knowledge of the common facts that an average adult possesses. Machines lack this basic background knowledge that all humans share. The obscure-but-pervasive nature of common sense makes it difficult to articulate and encode in machines.
The absence of common sense prevents intelligent systems from understanding their world, behaving reasonably in unforeseen situations, communicating naturally with people, and learning from new experiences. Its absence is perhaps the most significant barrier between the narrowly focused AI applications we have today and the more general, human-like AI systems we would like to build in the future. If successful, the MCS program could accelerate the development of AI for both defense and commercial applications.
Full information is available here.