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DARPA taps RTX to attune AI decisions to human values

Raytheon BBN to enable human-aligned decisions in difficult domains

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- RTX's (NYSE: RTX) BBN division received a contract award to support DARPA's "In The Moment" program. ITM aims to develop the foundations needed for algorithms that are trusted to independently make decisions in scenarios like mass casualty triage and disaster relief, where complex and rapid decisions are needed in dynamic situations where there is often no human consensus and no clear right answer.

"ITM is about more than getting AI to provide the correct answer in very controlled scenarios. We're not talking about training AI on labelled data to help identify a cancerous tumor on an X-Ray," said Alice Leung, Raytheon BBN principal investigator. "What we're trying to accomplish instead is the ability to create AI systems that humans would allow to make decisions independently in uncontrolled environments. To accomplish this, we need to determine how human experts make really difficult decisions and assess whether to trust the decisions of others. We'll be conducting both decision-making research and trust research."

The Raytheon BBN-led team, which includes Kairos Research, MacroCognition, and Valkyries Austere Medical Solutions, will use a cognitive interviewing technique to understand how experts—in this case, medical professionals and first responders—evaluate information and make tough trade-offs to act decisively at critical decision points. This qualitative information will be used to design scenario-based experiments to study how differences in an individual's decision-making attributes can explain their choices, and how the alignment of attributes between two different people impacts the willingness to delegate decisions to another. This will enable AI to be tuned to match an expert population, or even to be tuned to match an individual expert.

"Because the way we make decisions varies from person to person, it's unlikely that a one-size fits all trusted AI model exists," said Leung. "Instead, in theory, we should be able to create AI systems that adapt to the user and domain. Decisions are difficult because of uncertainty and trade-offs between competing goals. We want to be able to tune an AI's attributes such as risk tolerance, process focus, or willingness to change plans to better match a user or a group of users."  

DARPA is bringing together multiple teams to collaborate on this program. Other teams will focus on the development of prototype AI decision-makers that start with baseline knowledge and can then be tuned to match a set of target attributes. The research products from this program will be integrated and evaluated to determine how well the algorithmic agents were able to make decisions consistent with the target human attributes when faced with difficult scenarios. The program will also test whether human experts trust these aligned agents over the baseline agents or other actual humans. In these program evaluations of trust, the human experts will be shown a record of decisions in difficult scenarios without knowing whether the decision-maker was an AI or a human.  

Work on this contract, which is sponsored by DARPA and the Air Force Research Lab, is being performed in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dayton, Ohio; and Anniston, Alabama.

About Raytheon BBN
Founded in 1948, Raytheon BBN provides advanced technology research and development with a focus on national security priorities. From the ARPANET to the first email, Raytheon BBN consistently transitions advanced research to produce innovative solutions for its customers. Raytheon BBN takes risks and challenges conventions to create solutions in analytics and machine intelligence, networks and sensors, intelligent software and systems, and physical sciences.

About RTX
RTX is the world's largest aerospace and defense company. With more than 180,000 global employees, we push the limits of technology and science to redefine how we connect and protect our world. Through industry-leading businesses – Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, and Raytheon – we are advancing aviation, engineering integrated defense systems for operational success, and developing next-generation technology solutions and manufacturing to help global customers address their most critical challenges. The company, with 2022 sales of $67 billion, is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

Media contact:
Eric T. Mazzacone


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