Tag Archives | DARPA

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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DARPA Seeks Means to Manipulate Lightning

LightningClay Dillow writes on Popular Science:

Lightning Mother Nature has it. DARPA wants it.

China and Russia try to control rain clouds and the Dutch use technology to keep low-lying inland areas from flooding, so why shouldn’t the United States be able to manipulate lightning? In an attempt to better understand one of nature’s most powerful processes, DARPA issued a broad agency announcement yesterday asking for ideas on how to best protect American personnel and resources from dangers and costs associated with lightning strikes. To wit:

Lightning causes more than $1B/year in direct damages to property in addition to the loss of lives, disruption of activities (for example, postponement of satellite launches) and their corresponding costs. A better understanding of the physics underlying lightning discharge, associated emissions, and related processes (for example, tribocharging in the clouds) may lead to revolutionary advances in the state of the art of lightning protection.

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Military Funds Tiny Flying “Spy Hummingbird”

“It looks like a hummingbird!” But it’s an unmanned military aerial vehicle with a 5-inch wingspan for which DARPA is providing a second round of funding!

The ‘spy hummingbird’ weighs just 10 grams (about the weight of two nickels) and can perform “controlled hovering flight” using only an on-board power source and flapping its two wings…

This article appeared in the latest edition of H+ magazine.

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CounterTech – A(F)I: Artificial (Feline) Intelligence

SittingNow.com have employed the A.I. powers of Disinformation the Podcast host Joe McFall to kick off their new and improved 'CounterTech' series. This week, IBM scientists and their university partners announced a breakthrough in cognitive computing research: the simulation of a brain the size of a cat's. Using 144 terabytes of RAM and almost 150,000 processors, scientists were able to model a neural cortex with 1 billion simulated neurons and 10 billion synaptic connections. The researchers have subsequently been awarded $16.1 million for completion of phase 0 of DARPA's SYNAPSE project. The goal of SYNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics), according to DARPA, is "to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological levels." In layman's terms, their goal is to put simulated brains onto microchips...
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Darpa: Freeze Soldiers to Save Injured Brains

From Wired:

The Pentagon’s mad science division has a new way to deal with the 70,000+ troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury: freeze ‘em.

Darpa, the military’s far-out research arm, is looking for research projects that would create a “therapeutic hypothermia device” to prevent traumatic brain injuries from causing permanent molecular damage to the brain. The idea is based on successful studies that used cortical cooling to treat survivors of strokes and cardiac arrest. According to Darpa’s solicitation, cooling down the brain after trauma can offer “dramatic neuroprotection” that will prevent long-term harm to cognition and motor skills.

So far, Darpa-funded studies suggest that traumatic brain injuries are caused by repeated exposure to blasts, specifically the “supersonic wave” of highly-pressurized air they emit. Within a fraction of a second after impact, brain cells, tissues and blood vessels are stretched, torn and distorted. Over the hours, days and months that follow, altered brain processes create a snowball effect of damage – which is why symptoms often don’t show up until troops come home.

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Pentagon Unveils New Chembot

via cnet
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army Research Office awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to iRobot to create the flexible military bot. The maker of the Roomba and Scooba, along with University of Chicago researchers, showed off the oozy results at the Iros conference (the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) in St. Louis this week. DARPA envisions the palm-size ChemBot as a mobile robot that can traverse soft terrain and navigate through small openings, such as tiny wall cracks, during reconnaissance and search-and-rescue missions. It gets around by way of a process called "jamming," in which material can transition between semiliquid and solid states with only a slight change in volume. In ChemBot's case, a flexible silicone skin encapsulates a series of pockets containing a mix of air and loosely packed particles. When air is removed from the compartments, the skin attempts to equalize the pressure differential by constricting the particles, which shift slightly to fill the void left by the evacuated air. In that way, the weird little blob inflates and deflates parts of its body, changing size and shape--and scaring the living daylights out of us. We don't know exactly when ChemBot will join the Armed Forces, but we can only beg: please, oh please, keep it away from us.
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