Tag Archives | DARPA

Storytelling As A National Security Issue?

darpaDavid Metcalfe writes on Modern Mythology:

“If I were a betting man or woman, I would say that certain types of stories might be addictive and, neurobiologically speaking, not that different from taking a tiny hit of cocaine.”

—William Casebeer of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Despite the fact that it’s readily apparent Mr. Casebeer has never tried cocaine, DARPA’s current interest in narratives is an interesting development at an agency known for unique scientific inquiries. On April 25 and 26th DARPA held a conference called Narrative Networks (N2): The Neurobiology of Narratives. The purpose of this conference was to follow up a Feburary 26th event which sought to outline a quantitative methodology for measuring the effect of storytelling on human action.

We owe much of the early development of the internet to DARPA, along with remote viewing, remote controlled moths, invisibility cloaks and other wonders of the contemporary age.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

DARPA Wants To Send Humans To The Stars

Mitra (Alpha Centauri)Is this a good way to spend the money we’re borrowing from Chinese investors in U.S. Government debt? The New York Times‘ Dennis Overbye reports on DARPA’s bold step:

Alpha Centauri or bust.

The government agency that helped invent the Internet now wants to do the same for travel to the stars.

In what is perhaps the ultimate startup opportunity, Darpa, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, plans to award some lucky, ambitious and star-struck organization roughly $500,000 in seed money to begin studying what it would take — organizationally, technically, sociologically and ethically — to send humans to another star, a challenge of such magnitude that the study alone could take a hundred years.

The awarding of that grant, on Nov. 11 — 11/11/11 — is planned as the culmination of a yearlong Darpa-NASA effort called the 100-Year Starship Study, which started quietly last winter and will include a three-day public symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Sept.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Cold War USAF Considered Space-Based Atomic Warship (Video)

One of the secret projects discussed in Annie Jacobson's new Area 51 book is Project Orion, an ambitious 1950's-1960's era attempt to develop a nuclear fission-propelled spacecraft capable of interplanetary travel. Like many of the Cold War aeronautics projects developed at Area 51 and related test sites, it was way ahead of its time. According to Jacobs, however, when ARPA and the USAF took over the project, they had a far more Strangelovian vision in mind:
"From high above Earth, a USS Orion could be used to launch attacks against enemy targets using nuclear missiles. Thanks to Orion's nuclear-propulsion technology, the spaceship could make extremely fast defensive maneuvers, avoiding any Russian nuclear missiles that might come its way...For a period of time during the early 1960's the Air Force believed Orion was going to be invincible. 'Whoever builds Orion will control the Earth!" declared General Thomas S. Power of the Strategic Air Command." [Jacobson, p. 305]
In this fascinating TED lecture George Dyson, son of Freeman Dyson, shares his special knowledge of the project. Not much information about Project Orion's proposed weaponization has reached the web, but pay special attention to what he says at around 3:30-3:50...
Continue Reading

DARPA Creates Interactive 3-D Holographic Map Table

A 2D Representation of UPSD's 3D Image. Source: DARPA

A 2D Representation of UPSD's 3D Image. Source: DARPA

Popular Science reports via DARPA:

Long gone are the days of pushing plastic armies around hand-drawn maps. Today’s military planners deserve technology of the future, and that means nothing less than 3-D holograms will do. Luckily, we have DARPA, ever-ready to step in with a solution. The Urban Photonic Sandtable Display (UPSD) allows up to 20 participants to simultaneously view and manipulate the 360-degree, 3-D image on the table, without having to wear 3-D glasses.

The display can be expanded to as large as six feet, and has a visual depth of up to 12 inches. UPSD is also interactive – battle planners can freeze, rotate and zoom in on the images. They can also print out two-dimensional representations of the 3-D data (seen above) that troops can carry with them on their missions.

Zebra Imaging won the contract to create the technology for UPSD, and DARPA is using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems for the data.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Defense Department Wants To Be A Better Storyteller

800px-DARPA_LogoAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

The folks at DARPA, the Defense Department Advanced Research Project, put a call out for those interested to attend a workshop held at the end of February to understand what role “theories of narrative play in security domains.”

In other words, the Pentagon wants to learn more about storytelling, because a better understanding of “the role stories play in a security context is a matter of great import and some urgency.” To summarize, the Stories, Neuroscience and Experimental Technologies (STORyNET) workshop was held on the 28th with three goals:

To survey narrative theories – understanding the nature of a story and what makes one up.

To better understand the role of narrative in security contexts – asking what role stories play in political radicalization and how they influence participants in politics.

To survey the state of the art in narrative analysis and decomposition tools – “How can we take stories and make them quantitatively analyzable in a rigorous, transparent and repeatable fashion?

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Robotic Cheetah And Other Advanced ‘Terror Bots’ In Development

BigDog robot. Photo: Boston Dynamics

BigDog robot. Photo: Boston Dynamics

Discovery News reports on more nightmare-fuel for believers in the robopocalypse:

A headless metal warrior stomps towards you, shooting. Fortunately, you’ve been training for a marathon and easily jet off to safety down an alleyway. But wait -– now a metal cheeta-bot is after you, racing faster than your puny legs can go. As the space between you and the galloping beast closes, you round a corner, see a door and dive through. It slams behind you. As you freeze, holding your breath, the robotic cat passes by outside with a wake of metallic echoes.

Relieved, you exhale into the dark. A fatal mistake -– outside, another robot has detected your breath and alerted the enemy to your location …

Waking up from this nightmare is a way to save yourself, for now, but in fact all three ‘terror’ bots it featured are based on actual prototypes being developed in California and Boston (though not with directly malicious intentions).

Read the rest
Continue Reading

DARPA Continues to Refine the Art of Surveillance

DARPA is developing another successor to Total Information Awareness.  Dubbed ADAMS (Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales), the project aims to sift through billions of military emails to recognize an immanent threat — homocide, suicide, or intelligence leaks.  Wired’s Danger Room and CNN cover the project from different angles:

Darpa(Wired) The military is scrambling to identify disgruntled or radicalized troops who pose a threat to themselves or their buddies. So the futurists at Darpa are asking for algorithms to find and pre-empt anyone planning the next Fort Hood massacre, WikiLeaks document dump or suicide-in-uniform.

This counterintelligence-heavy effort isn’t Darpa’s typical push to create flying Humvees or brainwave-powered prosthetic limbs. But the Pentagon’s far-out R&D team has made other moves recently to hunt down threats from within.

The idea behind the Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales, or Adams, effort is to sift through “massive data sets” to find the warning signs of looming homicide, suicide or other destructive behavior.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Pentagon Spends $19 Billion To Discover That The Best Bomb-Detector Is A Dog

Photo: Piotr Grzywocz (CC)

Photo: Piotr Grzywocz (CC)

Having been unable to eat in the presence of some canines throughout my life (folks, you really should have trained your dogs, you know who you are…) this one comes as no surprise. Spencer Ackerman writes on the always interesting WIRED’s Danger Room:

Drones, metal detectors, chemical sniffers, and super spycams — forget ‘em. The leader of the Pentagon’s multibillion military task force to stop improvised bombs says there’s nothing in the U.S. arsenal for bomb detection more powerful than a dog’s nose.

Despite a slew of bomb-finding gagdets, the American military only locates about 50 percent of the improvised explosives planted in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that number jumps to 80 percent when U.S. and Afghan patrols take dogs along for a sniff-heavy walk. “Dogs are the best detectors,” Lieutenant General Michael Oates, the commander of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, told a conference yesterday, National Defense reports.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

A Machine That Teaches Itself

DARPA and Google seemed to be joined at the hip these days… From the New York Times:

Give a computer a task that can be crisply defined — win at chess, predict the weather — and the machine bests humans nearly every time. Yet when problems are nuanced or ambiguous, or require combining varied sources of information, computers are no match for human intelligence.

Browse the NELL Knowledge Base

Browse the NELL Knowledge Base

Few challenges in computing loom larger than unraveling semantics, understanding the meaning of language. One reason is that the meaning of words and phrases hinges not only on their context, but also on background knowledge that humans learn over years, day after day.

Since the start of the year, a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, supported by grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Google, and tapping into a research supercomputing cluster provided by Yahoo, has been fine-tuning a computer system that is trying to master semantics by learning more like a human.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

DARPA Develops Helmet of Obedience

Slide from William J. Tyler’s Helmet of Obedience project

Slide from William J. Tyler’s Helmet of Obedience project

From the Techno Fascism Blog:

It looks like our ever-diligent friends at DARPA have been busy creating a contingency plan for the OathKeeper movement. Thanks to a newly-developed pain modulator and behavior modification helmet, any US troops who decide they will obey the Constitution rather than the commands of the global puppet masters will now be getting some remote-controlled motivational persuasion.

Reminiscent of the “Collar of Obedience” from Star Trek, this new helmet according to it’s creator William J Tyler at Arizona State University, will be able to non-invasively produce all the same effects that are now possible only through deep surgical implants. Employing a form of targeted ultrasound technology, the “Helmet of Obedience” will be able to manipulate pain and motivational centers in the brain at a finer scale than even current magnetic stimulation.

It’s no mystery what agencies would be interested in this sort of technology and Tyler makes it painfully clear who his handlers are.

Read the rest
Continue Reading