Pentagon earmarks up to $2 billion for new advanced AI programs

The Department of Defense has vowed to spend $2 billion on artificial intelligence projects over the next half-decade. The program will focus on advancing the nation's AI capabilities, primarily involving the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, more commonly called DARPA. The agency's director Steven Walker revealed the new plan today.READ: Pentagon taps Google AI tech to analyze drone footage

Under this "third wave" project, DARPA will use the funds for dozens of new AI-based programs, all of them aimed at improving the US's artificial intelligence capabilities. Among other things, DARPA is interested in giving machines the ability to communicate and think like humans, hints of which we've seen from existing DARPA projects.

The move will help the US keep pace with China, which has notably shoveled resources into AI-based research. DARPA already has multiple AI projects underway, each of which tasks researchers with exploring different potential uses and solutions related to the technology.

Among other things, the government is interested in AI-based technologies that could include using machines to identify compromised videos, images, and audio, according to Washington Post. The agency is also interested in artificial intelligence that can serve as a companion of sorts for humans, forming conclusions about data and explaining how it came to those conclusions.

A number of critics have expressed concerns over the use of artificial intelligence technologies by governments. Google notably received massive backlash over its involvement with the Department of Defense; under the Project Maven contract, Google provided the DoD with assistance in developing technologies for analyzing drone footage. The company later announced that it wouldn't renew its contract with the agency.