Making AI-Based Language Learning Easy as Child”s Play

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April 5, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: April 5 on

Although language recognition software in call centers, translation apps and personal assistants has radically improved over the last decade, the machine learning algorithms used to train language recognition systems suffer from a lack of annotated training data, which limits the technology”s accuracy and applicability. The technology is also “brittle,” meaning it often has no way to manage new data sources, topics and vocabulary.

To overcome this limitation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to build an automated language acquisition system that learns language the way children do — extracting meaning from hearing sounds while observing the environment.

The Grounded Artificial Intelligence Language Acquisition (GAILA) program aims to develop a prototype that can associate text or spoken input with images, video or virtual visual scenes of previously unseen entities and actions and produce English descriptions of events and relationships. It expects a system that sees a black table, a white table and a black chair, for example, to be able to describe a previously unseen object as a white chair, DARPA said in its solicitation.

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DARPA AI Next Campaign – DARPA announced in September 2018 a multi-year investment of more than $2 billion in new and existing programs called the “AI Next” campaign. Key areas of the campaign include automating critical DoD business processes, such as security clearance vetting or accrediting software systems for operational deployment; improving the robustness and reliability of AI systems; enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies; reducing power, data, and performance inefficiencies; and pioneering the next generation of AI algorithms and applications, such as “explainability” and common sense reasoning.

AI Next builds on DARPA‘s five decades of AI technology creation to define and to shape the future, always with the Department’s hardest problems in mind. Accordingly, DARPA will create powerful capabilities for the DoD by attending specifically to the following areas:

New Capabilities
Robust AI
Next Generation AI
Adversarial AI
High Performance AI

In addition to new and existing DARPA research, a key component of the campaign will be DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program, which was first announced in July 2018.

Accelerating the Exploration of Promising Artificial Intelligence Concepts (Artificial Intelligence Exploration [AIE] program) – DARPA announced its Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program, a key component of the agency’s broader artificial intelligence (AI) investment strategy aimed at ensuring the United States maintains an advantage in this critical and rapidly accelerating technology area. AIE will constitute a series of unique funding opportunities that use streamlined contracting procedures and funding mechanisms to achieve a start date within three months of an opportunity announcement. Researchers will then work to establish the feasibility of new AI concepts within 18 months of award. Through this nimble approach to exploring new AI concepts, DARPA aims to outpace competing, global AI science and technology discovery efforts. The program announcement is available at:

“DARPA has established a streamlined process to push the state of the art in AI through regular and relatively short-term technology development projects,” said Peter Highnam, DARPA Deputy Director. “The intent is to get researchers on contract quickly to test the value and feasibility of innovative concepts. Where we’re successful, individual projects could lead to larger research and development programs spurring major AI breakthroughs.”

AIE is an agency-wide program, based on the successful “Disruptioneering” fast-tracked solicitation process pioneered by DARPA’s Defense Science Office, which supports a variety of technology development concepts. As with Disruptioneering, AIE will periodically issue special notices, known as “AIE Opportunities,” tied to topics of interest. The simplified proposal, contracting, and funding process makes it even easier for individuals and organizations to contribute to DARPA’s mission. AIE awards may be worth up to $1 million each, as described in each AIE Opportunity.

Solicitation Link &  Information:

Solicitation: Grounded Artificial Intelligence Language Acquisition (GAILA)

Solicitation Number: DARPA-PA-18-02-06
Agency: Other Defense Agencies
Office: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Response Date: April 26, 2019

Synopsis: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is issuing an Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) Opportunity, inviting submissions of innovative basic research concepts in the technical domain of human language technology, cognitive science, and language acquisition.

This AIE Opportunity is issued under the Program Announcement for AIE, DARPA-PA-18-02. All proposals in response to the Grounded Artificial Intelligence Language Acquisition (GAILA) opportunity, as described herein, will be submitted to DARPA-PA-18-02-06.