IARPA seeks industry help with artificial intelligence approaches to interpreting data

WASHINGTON, 10 Jan. 2013. U.S. intelligence experts are asking industry for help in developing new artificial intelligence theories that could enable analysts to glean valuable information from probing into the way humans understand complex and abstract concepts.

The U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in Washington on Monday released a broad agency announcement (IARPA-BAA-12-05) for the Knowledge Representation in Neural Systems (KRNS) program.

KRNS seeks to develop and test theories that explain how the human brain represents diverse types of conceptual knowledge within spatial and changing patterns of neural activity.

Companies chosen to participate in the KRNS program will develop systems that aim to predict patterns of neural activity associated with particular concepts and that can interpret which concepts are represented within measured patterns of neural activity.

The program will obtain all neural activity data using non-invasive methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG).

The program may uncover new ways of helping intelligence analysts probe deeply into images, video, text, and other data sets. When making sense of intelligence data, analysts rely on rich repertoires of conceptual knowledge to resolve ambiguities, make inferences, and draw conclusions.

Conceptual knowledge refers to knowledge about the properties of an entity -- such as an apple is edible -- as well as its relationships to other entities -- such as an apple is related to orchards and grocery stores.

Understanding how the human brain represents conceptual knowledge is a step toward building new analysis tools that acquire, organize and wield knowledge with unprecedented proficiency, IARPA officials say.

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Moreover, such understanding may lead to the development of novel techniques for training intelligence analysts and linguists.

The KRNS program consists of two phases: one that seeks to understand how the brain varies its representation of a concept, such as the apple was delicious, versus the boy threw the apple.

The second phase of the KRNS program will explore how the brain represents single concepts and combinations of concepts, such as the doctor drove the car, as opposed to doctor, drove, and car.

The first phase will run from August 2013 to June 2015. The second phase will run roughly from August 2015 to January 2017.

Companies interested must respond no later than 11 March 2013. Proposals should be through the IARPA Distribution and Evaluation System (IDEAS), which is online at

For questions or concerns contact IARPA via e-mail at with IARPA-BAA-12-05 in the subject line, or by fax at 301-851-7673, Attention: IARPA-BAA-12-05.

The KRNS point of contact is Brad Minnery, IARPA, who can be reached by fax at 301-851-7673, or by e-mail at

More information is online at

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