Given the baseline for government understanding of AI is poor, my prior on how impressive this thing is in reality (as some sort of AGI pathway breakthrough) is pretty low.
I would bet they have some large database and some good, but mostly conventional IT around it.
Another possibility, of course, is FUD. Promote a project as being more impactful than it really is so that your political critics are distracted by it and thus overlook your other projects that are more important, short-term, and real.
You do have to wonder. Why would a secrecy-driven org like NRO employ a meaningful and daunting project name like "Sentient" unless you want outsiders to become take an interest in the program? When you want a program to fly under the public radar, you name it something meaningless and innocuous like "BranMuffin" or "Spatula", not meaningful and fearful like "KillerFlyingRobots".
(I suspect tech companies do this, in part, with the tech-fad treadmill bandwagon.)
Link for the unfamiliar: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA-247#/media/File%3ANrol-3...
Nobody is close to creating actual artificial intelligence and we're probably getting close to the top of the hype cycle on the term.
C.f. the GPT2 announcement which got some pushback, and that was with plenty of concrete examples.
That name is stupid. It's like aspirational marketing. It reminds me of the artificial intelligence from Team America: World Police, called INTELLIGENCE.
"During the briefings, Marine Corps commandant David Shoup (the service with the most marginal nuclear responsibilities) saw a chart that showed that the initial attack would kill tens of millions of Chinese. At the closing meeting, General Shoup asked General Power what would happen if Beijing was not fighting; was there an option to leave Chinese targets out of the attack plan? Power was reported to have said that he hoped no one would think of that "because it would really screw up the plan"--that is, the plan was supposed to be executed as a whole. Apparently Shoup then observed that "any plan that kills millions of Chinese when it isn't even their war is not a good plan. This is not the American way."
This quote is from https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB130/
The primary source is Fred Kaplan's "Wizards..." book.
He must have avoided many history books to come to that conclusion.
The simple fact is they’d need the best minds of the world working on it and as we saw with the Manhattan project the people working on it tended to have the best grasp of the implications and wouldn’t keep it secret for long. Plus it’d turn whatever country had it into an economic powerhouse which is way more valuable than some classified intelligence product.
The USAF has been pretty open about how alien conspiracies help them. Makes it harder for enemies to distinguish fact from fiction. Sure the Russians know the aircraft at Area 51 aren't aliens, but it makes it harder to get good reports on capabilities of these aircraft. Op Sec is a major part of any agency. They always have been trying to obscure information. Many agencies have often both over and under reported their technological capabilities. This tactic has thousands of years of history and has been essential for all that time too. Propoganda is part of this too.
At least I read the parent talking about it in this manner. As Op Sec. Which of course it is. Anything that a government agency officially releases is in some form or another Op Sec. That's not conspiracy. That's like saying that when corporations make public announcements that they aren't trying to do something beneficial for the company, even if it is damage control.
Sure, we know they don't have AGI. But that's not what matters with Op Sec like this.
I'm not sure the Manhattan Project is a great example either; who leaked that into the public domain? Or did you mean in some other sense?
I think it is mistake to underestimate the computer science talent inside parts of the US intelligence community, some of it is exceptionally good. Most people in Silicon Valley have never met or worked with these people. I once asked a former professor from a highly regarded CS school why he quit academia to work for one of the agencies. For him it was simple: he could spend his days doing nothing but hardcore non-incremental CS research while avoiding the politics, incrementalism, and other tendencies of academia. Pure quality of life doing meaningful work in a low stress environment was more valuable to him than money or status. Many people do research solely for the challenge of solving hard problems, publishing is not important to them.
The inclusiveness and diversity of the work environment is also an overlooked attraction. The demographics don't look like your typical SV startup. Government organizations have many issues but providing equal opportunity for minorities is not one of them. Not everyone is comfortable working for tech companies.
There may be nothing to the article but don't write it off solely on the basis of presumed "second rate talent". There are research groups inside US intelligence that have world-class talent on par with the FAANG companies.
Not saying this is true - or even workable - but maybe they've figured out a way to apply so-called "second rate talent" to create "first rate results"?
For instance, have you ever researched how machining and machine tools came to be?
That is, how it was possible to create a machine capable of tolerances within say, 10-thousandths of an inch (that is, a really, really small amount, regardless of the units) - when the machines and tooling prior to that were no where near capable of doing that work?
In other words - how were we able to make more accurate machines using less accurate machines?
Maybe the same principles are being utilized by the NRO for this project...
From a philosophical point of view for ME personally, VR/AR/the internet/gaming etc isn't an adequate substitute for "real life" and I personally don't derive enough from substitutes to feel my quality of life is good, it's more just clinging to SOME interaction as I do here on HN. However I am sure for some people it is enough to make a significant impact and I find it a worthy avenue to pursue.
From a physical point of view, my circumstances make even the above things worse as I have some visual issues that cause headaches/eyestrain etc severely with most modern display types for some yet undetermined reason. It's none of the obvious once like PWM/blue light etc. So I am in a really corner case spot with tech and clinging to a super old device or two that aren't long for the world. I also have monovision and severe amblyopia so VR headsets don't work even if I could stand the display tech. I can stand a few min here and there to post a comment. But I cannot spend hours online or on screen anymore. A perfect ironic hit since that was about the only earning potential left and its already cost me the one real shot I have had in years. So often people are facing multiple disabilities from multiple angles.
I hope its helpful although I doubt I said much of substance.
I'm also highly skeptical of this system's predictive abilities. I recall a similar system (also described as "modeled after the human brain," whatever that means) from my time at a major defense contractor. It tried to predict the movements of the enemy and feelings of the non-combatant population via scrapings of news sites, social media, and other online sources. Never mind that the target battlefield was Afghanistan, where Internet adoption isn't quite 100%.
But theres a fun thing about some hundred or so Marines got greenlit to buy 3d printers and start building a wide range of stuff for themselves. After making new crayon flavors, they went on and built extremely cheap gear delivery drones of some 700lbs capacity and a whole slew of other stuff without red tape. It's actually impressive.
Google marine 3d print, cool articles and stories.
Lookup marine plywood drone. They had to do it with a firm due to gov contracting laws. But from what I understand it's mostly designed/built by marines (word of mouth). There are more and more stories like this that are popping up. Sad part, big contractors cry foul of marines making repair parts and their own gear. From what I understand, that's why they need other firms to "take ownership" on projects.
Theres a cool 3d print barracks project you can Google too.
"IT’S SENTIENT Meet the classified artificial brain being developed by US intelligence programs"
Might get short term attention they are bad for the long term credibility of the publication. "SENTIENT" is a clever code name for the project, but I didn't see anything to suggest that the program in question had anything to do with sentience. It seems like it's a program to synthesize and present data from a wide array of sources, and that's neat, but why try to pitch it as something that it's clearly not.
Warren Buffett once said you can have a ballet and that's fine. You can have a rock concert and that's fine. But don't have a ballet and market it as a rock concert. If you want to write a story about software that presents data insights, please label it as such and I'll be interested in reading it. Don't label it as a story about artificial brain sentience because then I'll complain in the comments.
TheVerge isn’t exactly shy of this sort of thing though. It’s a digital tabloid that flukes on some interesting stories occasionally.
Or watch the 1970 film based on the novel, Colossus: The Forbin Project. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus%3A_The_Forbin_Project
TLDR: World peace enforced by computers and resisted by their creators.
Because this is how you end up with Ghost In the Shell.
So we can be certain the Chinese have a complete copy of all the relevant software and files.