The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting new contract proposals to advance and enhance machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies as part of the agency’s new Enabling Confidence (EC) program.

DARPA’s EC program falls under the agency’s AI Exploration (AIE) initiative, which enables exploratory research and development (R&D) of AI-related topics, including AI theory and applied research that examines AI limitations with rules and statistical learning theories on AI technologies.

“These AIE Opportunities will focus on technical domains important to DARPA’s goals in pursuing disruptive third-wave AI research concepts,” the agency announced in a program announcement.

The proposals submitted must be unclassified and must address two independent and sequential project phases – the first being a feasibility study, and Phase Two is a proof of concept option. The total award value for the combined Phase One and Phase Two is capped at $1 million. AIE will enable DARPA to go from idea inception to exploration in 90 days.

Specifically, the EC’s focus within the AIE initiative is enabling new technologies that will refine the uncertainty estimates generated by these algorithms, to make better warfighting decisions, such as plotting the trajectory of an incoming fighter jet using data from several sensors or RADARs.

“The pace of discovery in AI science and technology is accelerating worldwide. AIE’s goal is to enable DARPA to fund pioneering AI research to discover new areas where R&D programs awarded through this new approach may be able to advance the state-of-the-art,” the notice says.

Previous AI investments by DARPA include the advancement of “first wave” (rule-based) and “second wave” (statistical learning-based) AI technologies. DARPA is now interested in researching and developing “third wave” AI theory and applications that address the limitations of first and second-wave technologies.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.