DARPA wants to find out if AI can optimize the wireless spectrum

At MWC Americas 2018, TechRepublic spoke with Paul Tilghman, Program Manager at DARPA, about the agency's Spectrum Collaboration Challenge, which explores AI and the wireless spectrum.

DARPA wants to find out if AI can optimize the wireless spectrum

"The competition that I run is called The Spectrum Collaboration Challenge," explains DARPA's program manager, Paul Tilghman, to TechRepublic's Teena Maddox. "It's really a competition exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence and the wireless spectrum, trying to understand if artificial intelligence can actually make it so that we're able to use the wireless spectrum more efficiently than we're able to use it today," he said.

"Right now, we're really in the middle of the competition," Tilghman continued. "We're in our second phase, we have 20 active competitors. In our first phase we had 30 active competitors. At the end of this year in December, we're actually going to run our second preliminary event. The second preliminary event will help us make awards to our final set of teams. That final set of teams in 2019, we'll see them at Mobile World Congress Americas 2019, in a live stage show. And in that live stage show, we're going to be competing the teams head to head, and at the end of the stage show, we'll be awarding $3.75 million in prizes, $2,000,000 prize to the top placing team.

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"DARPA's grand challenges are actually a really good exploratory measure, when you have a very tough problem, but one that's very tangible, and also one where there's many possible different types of solutions to that problem. And what you're really searching for is a way to sift through a large number of potential solutions and neck it down to the one or two or three that are really viable. And again here we find ourselves in the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge with a large number of possible solutions for how you bring intelligence into the radio, and we're really hoping that by using a competition, that we're able to determine really which strategies, what kinds of artificial intelligence, are best at optimizing the spectrum under every circumstance.

"I really hope that everybody that sees this comes and joins us at Mobile World Congress Americas in 2019 to come see our final show, and really see what artificial intelligence can do for the wireless spectrum."

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By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included writing on s...