In the lead up to awAIre, we’re taking some time to speak to key Executives from the leading companies supporting the show. Today we’re talking to Tim Grayson, Director, Strategic Technology Office at DARPA.
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey in tech?
I started my technical career thinking I was going to be an academic and in fact did my physics PhD in quantum optics (before it becomes cool and took off as quantum computing!), but at each step of the way, I constantly found myself being drawn into “systems-level” problems. For example, I did a postdoc with the Air Force, first developing novel laser sources and then active sensors. But I couldn’t help myself from thinking about how those sensors would get integrated onto an aircraft or how they were going to be used or what software they were going to need or how that software was going to be trained. This system-level thinking led me to DARPA as a program manager in the late-90s. After a few other stops, I end up back at DARPA in 2018 in my current position. This system-level thinking has been at the heart of my work the whole time and is at the heart of our current work in Mosaic Warfare.
How have DARPA applied AI and what are their focus areas for the technology?
DARPA has a wide range of AI research – actually dating back to the 1960s when the term first started being used! We think of AI in three “waves”. Wave 1 was expert systems, rules based AI. Most of the world, including much of the work my office does, is Wave 2 machine learning-based AI. Other parts of DARPA are working on Wave 3, research on the science of AI itself
How are DARPA collaborating with the ecosystem to leverage entrepreneurship & innovation?
DARPA is arguably the innovation engine of the US DoD, driven by a combination of technically-informed risk taking concentrated on a mission focus. This combination has led to breakthroughs ranging from the creation of stealth aircraft to the internet, and we continue to push at those boundaries. That said, we also recognize the level of innovation that exists in the commercial world and are continually on the look-out for new ways to engage with an even broader ecosystem. We invest in technology, not companies, and through research grants and contracts, not capital, but nevertheless, think of us as very much a partner in the venture capital ecosystem.
How do you see the space of contextual AI developing in the future?
Contextual AI will produce new opportunities along several dimensions. It has shown promise being able to handle sparse data. This is valuable when I do not actually have data on subject of interest or simply just to do faster training. It also enables AI reasoning over more complex, multi-step problems, inching AI a step toward more human-like intuitive reasoning.
Thanks Tim – Looking forward to hearing more from DARPA at the event !
Register FREE to see Tim speaking at AwAIre on June 23rd.