The Stack Archive

UK government launches £100k research fund into AI for defence

Wed 7 Dec 2016

The UK government’s Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has released £100,000 in funds for new research into possible applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence to the defence sector.

The announcement also reveals that the DSTL is planning to run a 1.5 day workshop in association with the Digital Catapult Centre, an organisation occupied with the advancement of digital take-up in British-based enterprise – with a focus on autonomous agents.

The areas covered by the new funds include machine learning, artificial intelligence, machine intelligence (unusually distinguished from AI and machine learning here), automation, big data. Predictive analytics, automated planning, autonomous intelligent systems and cognitive science.

Both the DSTL release and information published at DCC would indicate that this initiative is focused somewhere between intelligence (in machine terms, IoT) and large scale unstructured data analysis (big data).

Presumably to connect at a common level, the release leverages the news headlines being gathered in this period by the only public face of AI (besides automated checkout machines) – the various flavours of personal assistants offered by tech majors such as Apple, Google and Amazon:

‘Autonomous agents are a combination of a range of technologies and are predicted to become increasingly prevalent across many industries. Simple autonomous agents, such as Siri and Google Now are already available to the public; but as advances are made in the fields of machine intelligence and data science, the functionality of these agents will also increase.

‘To generate effective intelligence, UK military and security organisations need to process large amounts of data to support, guide and inform personnel in defence and humanitarian efforts, ensuring the right information is given to the right people at the right time.’

The Digital Catapult Centre will be running a ‘Pit Stop’ related to the funding launch, at its HQ at 101 Euston Road, on the 2nd and 3rd of March 2017, between 9 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.

The UK government has kept up a steady stream of releases and innovations around AI, automated systems and autonomous vehicle research over the last six or seven months, perhaps partly in response to ongoing fears about the possibility of a UK brain-drain in a post-Brexit academic environment.


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