ODNI launches Xamine challenge

The Intelligence Community is sponsoring a $75,000 prize competition to explore opportunities for artificial intelligence and other machine-based approaches to transform the process by which collected information is examined for credibility and uniqueness. On May 4, the Office of the Director of Science and Technology within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—in partnership with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence—launched its third challenge contest, “Xamine,” to explore AI-based opportunities for verifying collected information. Xamine’s focus on machine-based validation is designed to complement the focus on machine-based product generation and evaluatoin, respectively, in the jointly-sponsored ODNI-OUSD(I) Xpress Challenge and Xtend Challenge released last year.

Keeping pace with the accelerating amount of data generated around the world is challenging enough for trained IC analysts using existing practices, but additional problems exist for systems employing AI-based methods. Machine learning techniques, for example, can be undermined by intelligent and adaptive adversaries. Such actors have demonstrated the ability to manipulate input data, thereby exploiting specific vulnerabilities of ML algorithms and compromising the system’s dependability. These concerns regarding “spoofing” are generally focused on ML-based applications, such as voice and image recognition, but analogous approaches can be used for additional AI-based techniques, such as natural language processing.

“As the volume of information available to the IC’s analytic community continues to exceed the ability for traditional human vetting, the IC will require a scalable means for inspecting and ensuring the integrity of the data that are ingested by IC collection systems,” said Dr. David Isaacson, DS&T program manager for the challenge. “In addition to helping the IC to determine the current state of the art in this area, the Xamine Challenge will help the IC to identify and begin to address the relevant research challenges.”

The Xamine Challenge asks solvers to describe a technical approach for enabling the automated validation of information prior to its incorporation into machine-generated intelligence products. Solvers must provide a well-supported, technology-based justification describing how the proposed solution could—at a minimum—rapidly and objectively determine the reliability of input information with minimal or no human intervention. Further, the solvers should describe their solution in the context of allowing IC analysts to understand and accept the solution and be able to evaluate the solution in terms of its trustworthiness, with minimal additional training.

Challenge solvers’ approaches will be evaluated by a team of IC and Department of Defense scientists, engineers, and other technical experts. The initial prize purse is $25,000, and the deadline for submissions is July 2, 2018. After the close of the challenge, an additional award pool of $50,000 will be available for Solvers who are able to provide, upon request from ODNI and OUSD(I), more detailed information such as a pseudo-code implementation of their proposed solution.

With the Xamine Challenge, the ODNI and the OUSD(I) are advancing the IC’s mission of stimulating technology-based capabilities for solving intelligence challenges today and in the future.

To learn more about Xamine, including rules and eligibility requirements, visit the Xamine Challenge competition website.

Source: ODNI