HRL to explore artificial intelligence for drawing hidden intelligence from images and text

Posted by John Keller

WASHINGTON, 30 Sept. 2013. Artificial intelligence experts at HRL Laboratories LLC in Malibu, Calif., will help U.S. military researchers unlock secrets in the nature of knowledge in an effort to improve tools and training available to intelligence analysts.

HRL won a $10.3 million contract last week for the Knowledge Representation in Neural Systems (KRNS) program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) in Washington. IARPA is the research arm of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

HRL experts will develop new theories that explain how conceptual knowledge is represented in the human brain and test those theories by demonstrating the ability to predict and interpret concept-relate patterns of neural activity measured non-invasively. Awarding the contract on behalf of IARPA were officials of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

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.

HRL experts 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.

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. On this contract HRL will do the work in Malibu, Calif., and should be finished by November 2016.

For more information contact HRL Laboratories online at, or IARPA at

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