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NEWS | May 30, 2024

NRL Researchers Release “Putting AI in the Critical Loop” Book

By Nicholas E. M. Pasquini, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Information Technology Division researchers co-author Putting AI in the Critical Loop: Assured Trust and Autonomy in Human-Machine Teams book published by Elsevier in February 2024 with an emphasis on technology, devices, systems, and know-how to acquire and move warfighting information while denying these capabilities to the adversary.

Putting AI in the Critical Loop: Assured Trust and Autonomy in Human-Machine Teams addresses the primary challenges of bidirectional trust and performance of autonomous systems, providing readers with a review of the latest literature, the science of autonomy, and a clear path towards the autonomy of human-machine teams and systems.

The book is written by eminent researchers from across the world in addressing many of these challenges related to building, sustaining and assuring trust between human-machine teams through fundamental and applied research.

Throughout this book, the intersecting themes of collective intelligence, bidirectional trust, and continual assurance form the challenging and extraordinarily interesting themes which will help lay the groundwork for the audience to not only bridge knowledge gaps, but also to advance this science to develop better solutions.

The distinctively different characteristics and features of humans and machines are likely why they have the potential to work well together, overcoming each other's weaknesses through cooperation, synergy, and interdependence which forms a “collective intelligence.” Trust is bidirectional and two-sided; humans need to trust AI technology, but future AI technology may also need to trust humans.

The NRL editors were responsible for co-organizing the 2022 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Spring Symposium that served as the foundation for the book, as well as for soliciting, reviewing and down-selecting the final manuscripts after the symposium, while leading and managing the overall editorial process with Elsevier.  

“The book has been in-the-making since March 2022,” said NRL Information and Decision Sciences Branch Head Mr. Ranjeev Mittu. “The topic of the book is important to the Navy due to the potential for widespread adoption of AI in high consequence applications and situations.”

Autonomous and semi-autonomous systems used throughout the U.S. Navy provide considerable assistance to warfighters in understanding and operating in complex battlefield scenarios.

“Perhaps the most crucial piece of the puzzle that will enable these machines to work effectively alongside humans at scale is building and maintaining trust in the decisions, recommendations and actions made between human and machine,” said NRL Distributed Intelligent Systems Section Computer Engineer Prithviraj Dasgupta, Ph.D. “Trust is a layered, multi-dimensional and complex aspect in human-machine teams; it is difficult to build, but not too hard to destroy.”

In complex battlefield environments, trust between human-machine teams is more challenging as there are multiple modalities of communication between human-human, human-machine and machine-machine, different ways for humans and machines to express and understand the intents of each other’s actions, and varying levels of thresholds for defining trustworthiness by different machines and humans.

“The insights offered through this research will help to bridge the gap for synergistic and effective team-based operations between humans and machines in complex battlefield environments. The book is intended for graduate students, researchers, and professionals in the fields of computer science, interested in the fields of artificial intelligence and autonomous human-machine teams and systems,” said NRL Distributed Autonomous Systems Section Head Mr. Don Sofge. Specific emphasis is given to the challenges in developing and deploying autonomous systems, for example: trust; ethics; and legalities, including how such systems engage and interact with humans.”

Dasgupta’s research interests are in the areas of machine learning, AI-based game playing, game theory and multi-agent systems. He received his Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 2001 to 2019, he was a full Professor with the computer science department at the University of Nebraska, Omaha where he established and directed the CMANTIC Robotics Laboratory. He has authored over 150 publications in leading journals and conferences in his research area. He is a senior member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Mittu is the Head of the Information and Decision Sciences Branch and leads a multidisciplinary group of scientists and engineers that conduct research and advanced development in visual analytics, human performance assessment, decision support systems, and enterprise systems. His research expertise is in multi-agent systems, human-systems integration, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data mining and pattern recognition; and he has authored and/or coedited ten books on the topic of AI in collaboration with national and international scientific communities spanning academia and defense. Mittu received a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1995 from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Sofge is a computer scientist and roboticist at the NRL with 35 years of experience, and 22 at the laboratory, in AI, machine learning, and control systems research and development. He leads the Distributed Autonomous Systems Section in the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI), where he develops nature-inspired computing paradigms to challenging problems in sensing, AI, and control of autonomous robotic systems. He has more than 200 refereed publications including 12 books in robotics, AI, machine learning, planning, sensing, control, and related disciplines.

NRL's ITD conducts basic research, exploratory development, and advanced technology demonstrations in the collection, transmission, and processing of information to provide a basis for improving the conduct of military operations.

The ITD is a direct descendant of the Laboratory’s Radio Division, one of NRL’s two original research Divisions when the Laboratory was commissioned in 1923. In fact, ITD’s roots precede the founding of NRL since the NRL Radio Division was formed by consolidating two already existing Naval Laboratories, the Naval Radio Telegraphic Laboratory, established in 1908, and the Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory, established in 1918. These two Laboratories were consolidated into the NRL Radio Division.

From basic research through engineering development, the ITD, under the Systems Directorate, expands operational capabilities and provides materiel support to Fleet and Marine Corps missions.

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

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