Dstl research looks at how AI can be used to sort mass quantities of data

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AI academics are treading new ground in the latest UK-US research project. Funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the study intends to address the issue of large data sets being too expensive to collect, process and store.

Finding a needle in the haystack

The latest study is a collaboration with the US Department of Defence and the Engineering and Physical Research Council. The technology could completely revolutionise the way enterprises handle large data sets.

Rene Vidal, from John Hopkins University in Maryland vaguely described the technology at a meeting of academics at Imperial College, London. "We are teaching the machine to answer the questions, and to interpret the answers," he said.

Some experts have also described the technology as being able to find "a needle in a haystack." Paul Thomas, technical expert in Data Fusion, and the technical partner for the project from Dstl, said that the research is "fundamental."

This is because the technology provides an "understanding of the real value of data for a decision," Thomas said. "All too often the desire is to hoover up all data we can get without understanding how it helps," he added.

As a result, "this creates processing, communication and storage bottlenecks. This project will enable us to, for the first time, make choices about what data is important. A bit like a spam filter for our sensors."

Emotionally intelligent machines

In addition to the data project, the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) is developing emotionally intelligent machines. In short, this technology can understand human needs and values, interact with humans effectively, and ‘see' using cognitive reasoning.

Richard Orme CTO of Photobox Group discussed the possibilities of this technology in a podcast with EM360. He also wrote "I believe the way to make these systems succeed in our lives is to make sure we're helping humans with their decision-making process, rather than taking it over entirely."

Dstl's Emerging Technology for Defence programme manager, Rob Baldock also discussed the benefits of MURIs. "Any emerging areas, we need to know and understand, so we can be an intelligent customer," he said.

The tech industry has a long history of innovating from technological advancements by defence organisations. As a result, enterprises could very well benefit from complex data processors and emotionally intelligent machines in the near future.

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