The Defense Advanced Research and Planning Agency (DARPA) selected Aptima for its Agile Teams program, awarding the company with a multi-year contract worth an estimated $3.5 million.

Aptima and partners, Professor Julie Shah of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Professor Krishna Pattipati of the University of Connecticut and Sophia Speira, LLC, are developing a framework to represent, test, optimize, and train complex socio-technical systems capable of peer-level interaction, mutual learning and problem-solving.

“The goal is to create organizations that are more dynamically responsive, that can quickly adapt to changing situations, and reallocate the right abilities, tasking, and workload across complex, mixed human-machine systems,” said Daniel Serfaty, Aptima CEO and Principal Founder.

This endeavor is going to explore human-machine collaborative work.

“Humans are good at collaborating and learning from each other. While current machines are not, the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) is challenging this assumption,” said Serfaty. “Much like a high performing sports team uses different plays and players to anticipate and counter what an opponent might do, similarly human-machine systems must be able to collaboratively adapt as mission demands change.”

Human-machine partnerships are continuing to grow more common, but communication and adaptability are major shortcomings. This is at the heart DARPA’s Agile Teams program that launched in 2016, which seeks to meld the strengths of human cognition and technology.

“A-Teams is focused not on developing new AI technologies per se, but on developing a framework for optimizing the use of smart machines in various roles together with humans to ensure optimal human-machine teamwork for solving dynamic problems,” said John Paschkewitz, DARPA program manager, at the announcement of the program. “Given an uncertain environment and fluid team structure, how does one best use combined human and machine capabilities to make wise decisions? Are there generalizable mathematical abstractions to capture the dynamic interactions of problem space, team structure, and performance? These are the kinds of questions we intend to answer in the program.”

Aptima specializes in applying machine learning, human performance, and cognitive systems integration to organizational challenges faced by the Department of Defense, Government agencies, healthcare and law enforcement.