Tag Archives | DARPA

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.

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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.

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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.

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DARPA Is Actually Working on A Flying Humvee

Flying HumveeI guess we can’t be surprised the military would get a flying car before the rest of us. Spencer Ackerman writes in WIRED’s Danger Room:

In the spring, the futurists at Darpa rethought troop transport. Instead of adding armor or changing the shape to deflect bomb blasts, the agency reasoned, why not let it leap into the sky at the first sign of danger or inconvenience? That’s exactly what Darpa’s “Transformer” project is supposed to be: a mashup of a helicopter, plane and armored truck. And it just came a step closer to reality.

AAI Corporation, a Maryland-based aerospace and defense company, won a $3.05 million contract with Darpa to see if it the technology behind the Transformer can, well, get off the ground, Aviation Week reports. Based on so-called “compound helicopter” technology that the company is developing with Carter Aviation Technologies, the gist is that AAI’s design for the Transformer envisions it to carry four soldiers on the road as a car, but the rotor blades on top allow it to take off vertically into the air.

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DARPA Seeking Small Business Partners To Develop Robots

800px-DARPA_LogoHard to believe that DARPA is feeling the pinch as Obama’s never-ending wars push our national debt to unimaginable levels, but apparently they need help. Report from Fast Company:

Back in July the government identified robots as one of the R&D priorities for the 2012 budget (about a decade behind the rest of us). Now there’s a research funding round to aid small business robotic’s efforts, to build robot gear DARPA can’t manage.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy was behind July’s thinking that “Robotics is an important technology because of its potential to advance national needs such as homeland security, defense, medicine, healthcare, space exploration,” and a whole list of other purposes. The OSTP thinks it’s also a tech at “a tipping point in terms of its usefulness and versatility,” thanks to innovations in programming, hardware, and computer vision.

Now the White House has announced that five federal agencies have banded together to create a fund to spur “small business research.” Companies can apply for cash to aid work on “robot-assisted rehabilitation, robotics for drug discovery, and robots that can disarm explosive devices.” This last one is particularly revealing, given how much the U.S.

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Scientists Develop ‘Fake’ Genetically-Engineered Blood for Use on the Battlefield

BattlefieldNiall Firth in the Daily Mail writes:

American scientists have developed ‘artificial’ blood that could soon be used to treat wounded soldiers in battle.

The genetically-engineered blood is created by taking cells from umbilical cords and using a machine to mimic the way bone marrow works to produce mass quantities of usable units of red blood cells.

Known as ‘blood pharming’ the programme was launched in 2008 by the Pentagon’s experimental arm, Darpa, to create blood to treat soldiers in far-flung battlefields.

The firm Arteriocyte, which received $1.95 million for the project, has now sent off its first shipment of O-negative blood to the food and drugs watchdog in the US, the FDA.

Read more: Daily Mail

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Holy DARPA, Batman! Pentagon’s BaTMAN and RoBIN Projects Attempt to Master Biology

Who knew that reading comic books or watching the classic ’60s Batman TV show would lead to this? Katie Drummond writes in WIRED’s Danger Room:
Batman & Robin

The Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm has outdone itself this time. Darpa’s got two new projects that are ambitious in scope, even by their standards. So maybe that explains why the agency opted to enlist some awesomely bad superhero acronyms to characterize the way-out endeavors.

At least, that’s the best explanation Danger Room can come up with. Because it’s tough to see a connection between the fundamental nature of time, biological design … and Gotham City’s Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder.

Leave it up to the prodigious acronym artists at the Pentagon — responsible for gems like RESURRECT, NIRVANA and DUDE — to go for it anyway. Darpa’s launching Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature (BaTMAN), in an effort to better understand “the spatio-temporal universe,” and, from there, “transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive field of science.”

It’s an area the Darpa’s been exploring for years, especially when it comes to quantum effects in nature.

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Military Begins Funding Super-Intelligent Computer Chip

From Surfdaddy Orca on h+ magazine:

Skynet?

The military is funding a project to create neural computing using memristors, a sophisticated circuit component which HP Labs describes as a stepping stone to “computers that can make decisions” and “appliances that learn from experience.”

In a video, HP researcher R. Stanley Williams explains how his team created the first memristor in 2008, while the article also explains how U.C. researchers made an even more startling discover: the memristor “already existed in nature.”

It matches the electrical activity controlling the flux of potassium and sodium ions across a cell membrane, suggesting memristors could ultimately function like a human synapse, providing the “missing link” of memory technology.

HP believes memristors “could one day lead to computer systems that can remember and associate patterns in a way similar to how people do.” But DARPA’s SyNAPSE project already appears committed to scaling memristor technology to perform like a human synapse.

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DARPA Wants to Override Evolution to Make Immortal Synthetic Organisms

800px-DARPA_LogoBy Jeremy Hsu for PopSci:

Death-resistant synthetic beings? Don’t worry, there’s a genetically encoded kill-switch

It’s been a long time since a Pentagon project from the DARPA labs truly evoked a “WTF DARPA?!” response, but our collective jaw dropped when we saw the details on a project known as BioDesign. DARPA hopes to dispense with evolutionary randomness and assemble biological creatures, genetically programmed to live indefinitely and presumably do whatever their human masters want. And, Wired’s Danger Room reports, when there’s the inevitable problem of said creatures going haywire or realizing that they’re intelligent and have feelings, there’s a planned self-destruct genetic code that could be triggered.

Unsurprisingly, molecular biologists have weighed in with huge caveats and raised fingers of objection. First, they say that DARPA has the wrong idea about hoping to overcome evolution’s supposed randomness, and that evolution really represents a super-efficient design algorithm. Then there’s the problem of guaranteeing immortal life for any biological creature in the first place — just look here and here at some really smart people who have yet to find that fountain of youth.

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U.S. Military Prepares for Cyber War

Surfdaddy Orca writes in h+ magazine:
Ever wonder how exactly the U.S. military would fight a cyber war? In August 2009, the U.S. Air Force activated its new cyberspace combat unit, the 24th Air Force, to "provide combat-ready forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained cyber operations." It's commanded by former Minuteman missile and satellite-jamming specialist Major General Richard Webber. (And under his command are two wings, the 688th Information Operations Wing and the 67th Network Warfare Wing, plus a combat communications units.) Meanwhile, to counter the threat of cyber warfare, DARPA is still deploying the National Cyber Range, a test bed of networked computers to test countermeasures against "cyberwar". (According to one report, it provides "a virtual network world . to be populated by mirror computers and inhabited by myriad software sim-people 'replicants,' and used as a firing range in which to develop the art of cyber warfare.") And the Obama administration has even added a military cybersecurity coordinator to the National Security team.
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DARPA Tests Zombie Hibernation Formula

DARPA is funding research into "a zombie-like form of hibernation" -- including a $9.9 million Texas program seeking to induce suspended animation. They're testing chemical compounds on anesthetized pigs to keep them "as close to death as possible" -- to improve emergency trauma care for soldiers on the battlefield. Also being tested is a pancreatic enzyme found in squirrels "to put humans into a state of squirrel-like hibernation...
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