DARPA seeks to upgrade computer to human communications

DARPA seeks to upgrade computer to human communications

The Defense Department is modeling the future of human-computer relations. 

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has asked for research proposals for what it calls Communicating with Computers (CwC), a sophisticated method of communication in which computers can not only execute commands, but interpret broad requests.  

In order to achieve an independent “thinking” process for computers, DARPA’s CwC program aims to develop a corpus or library of elementary ideas as well as algorithms for assembling complex ideas from elementary ones given language and context.

“Human-machine communication falls short of the human-human standard, where speakers and listeners consider such contextual aspects as what has been said already, the purposes of the communication, the best ways to express ideas, who they are speaking with, prevailing social conventions and the availability of other modes of expression such as gestures,” DAPRA said in a statement.

Yet while humans are capable of reading more deeply and interpreting data better than machines, computers best humans in their ability to read, process and generate numbers for models faster.

Because humans are much better at interpreting data while computers are more adept at collecting and storing data, bridging these gaps though direct collaboration and communication will help DOD with tasks such as intelligence collection. 

In another use case, CwC will be tasked with building molecular models of how cells become cancerous. While the machines can generate vast numbers of molecular models, humans are better judges of the biological plausibility of those proposed models.

DARPA will  use what it describes as “collaborative story-telling” that will enable humans and computers to have a conversation in which each will take turns composing sentences until a short story is completed.  This will assist in two-way communication to complete a job and simulate machine communication akin to human to human communication. 

Even though human-machine collaboration may be some time off, DARPA hopes bridging the gap will encourage the development of new problem-solving technologies. 

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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