$12m CSIRO program looks to 'reimagine intelligence'

Friday, 03 December, 2021

$12m CSIRO program looks to 'reimagine intelligence'

The newly launched $12 million Collaborative Intelligence (CINTEL) Future Science Platform, part of CSIRO’s Future Sciences Platforms portfolio, aims to research new and emerging technologies for Australia. The platform aims to move beyond machines replacing people or automating their jobs, and instead strives to create teams to maximise the benefits of human and machine intelligence. One of CINTEL’s first projects will draw on the expertise of CSIRO’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group, who recently claimed a silver medal in the international DARPA Subterranean Challenge. The challenge involved using teams of robots to explore and locate objects in unmapped underground environments under the supervision of a human operator. CINTEL Leader Dr Cécile Paris said lessons from the challenge could help inform future human/robot teaming.

CINTEL will run for four years and will bring together behavioural and social scientists with computer, robotics and domain experts to develop the general-purpose technology needed to facilitate collaborative human/machine teams. “The project will focus on developing a richer, dynamic human-robot collaboration, enabling humans and robots to respond in real time to changes in the environment and make better decisions, together,” Dr Paris said.

Dr Paris added that CINTEL will research dynamic situation awareness and mechanisms to ensure a collaborative dialogue between humans and robots throughout, for example, a rescue mission. “Rescue missions are often ill defined and dynamic, and the humans must use their own knowledge and skills, like reasoning, intuition, adaptation and experience, to identify what the robots should be doing. CINTEL will investigate how humans can fully utilise their unique skillset in collaboration with the robots for successful outcomes.”

Other CINTEL projects include developing a digital team member to help scientists make sense of the massive amount of information in modern biological collections and supporting cybersecurity analysts with collaborative surveillance. The program will be run by CSIRO with research and impact partner Saber Astronautics, as well as Emesent, the Queensland AI Hub, TAFE Queensland, Aged Care Industry Technology Council, Global Community Resourcing, the Department of Defence, the Queensland University of Technology, and researchers from Monash University and the University of Sydney.

The CINTEL program’s goal is to leverage the fundamental differences between human and machine intelligence to ensure the best outcomes. Dr Paris noted that while we’re used to hearing about machines competing with humans in games like chess, what isn’t as well known is that humans collaborating with AI have proven superior to the best AI systems and human chess players.

“Human intelligence is creative and adaptable, while machine intelligence is more specific and able to handle vast amounts of data. For many problems, particularly those that involve complex, changeable and difficult-to-define contexts, we are likely to get better results if we design AI systems explicitly to work with human partners, rather than attempting to do the job themselves. This requires a new way of thinking, both about how we design AI systems and how workers across different occupations and industries should work with them.

“This is the next scientific frontier of digital transformation,” Dr Paris said.

Image credit: Katrina Lo Surdo/CSIRO

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