Posts tagged: darpa
HAARP is down, but rumors of its demise may have been exaggerated:
The shutdown is reported to be only a temporary one, with the facility having been shuttered sometime between late May and mid-June.
“It was a surprise to all of us to hear it was shutting down,” said Dr. Bill Bristow, a professor of electrical engineering at UAF.
Air Force officials are hopeful that the facility would open and resume operations in mid-August. DARPA currently has a sizeable funding bloc allocated for additional ionospheric research in the fall of 2013, so it will likely have to be open for that research.
The shuttering of HAARP has apparently arisen from a contractor regime change. The facility’s operations were previously administered by Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. subsidiary — and 8(a) contractor — Marsh Creek, LLC. Reportedly in talks to take over the contract is regional Alaska Native corporation Ahtna, which oversees the area of Gakona, where HAARP is located.
Neither Marsh Creek nor Ahtna returned requests for comment Wednesday. […]
Though HAARP is continually manned and maintained when operational, there aren’t always experiments being conducted at the facility.
“HAARP doesn’t operate continually,” said Dr. Brenton Watkins, professor emeritus of physics at UAF. “It operates in a ‘campaign’ mode with kind of two-week periods of activity. I’ve been involved in every operational campaign for — I think — the last five years.”
Full Story: Alaska Dispatch:
From Danger Room:
In its ongoing quest to measure every aspect of U.S. troops’ physiology, the Pentagon’s esoteric research enclave wants to develop a durable, unobtrusive device that can track the body’s physical response to stress. Military scientists believe that using the device — preferably a tattoo — to track heart-rate, temperature or bio-electric response during various training situations will help them crack the code of combat fatigue.
Darpa, the same guys who are working on robot ostriches, battlefield illusions and a texting spy camera, recently requested research proposals to develop the next generation of bio-statistic devices. The solicitation, which opened last month, hopes new technologies can transcend the current paradigm of patient monitoring of needles, gels and electrodes. And advanced materials make it possible to integrate everything from the sensors to the transmitter into thumb-sized membranes that can stick to skin — like temporary tattoos.
This makes a lot of sense to me. I recently tried out a BodyMedia arm band, but returned it because it was a bit too big to wear day to day (it wouldn’t be bad for wearing just during workouts though). But a temporary tattoo that could track much of the same stats would solve the bulk/appearance problem without having to resort to, y’know, implants.
“Imagine living in a world where every errant utterance you make is preserved forever,” writes Danger Room’s Robert Beckhusen. That’s what DARPA is working on:
Analyzing speech and improving speech-to-text machines has been a hobby horse for Darpa in recent years. But this takes it a step further, in exploring the ways crowdsourcing can make it possible for our speech to be recorded and stored forever. But it’s not just about better recordings of what you say. It’ll lead to more recorded conversations, quickly transcribed and then stored in perpetuity — like a Twitter feed or e-mail archive for everyday speech.
This is actually from 2008, but it’s a pretty good overview of DARPA projects:
From the “ones to watch”:
Z-man: The aim: to allow soldiers to scale vertical walls without ropes or ladders at a rate of 0.5 metres a second. The solution: mimic the microscopic hairs, or “setae”, that allow geckos to stroll up walls and across ceilings. Small robots that climb using synthetic setae have already been demonstrated, but DARPA hopes to extend this technology to humans.
The Office of Naval research wants to fund more research on intuition:
esearch in human pattern recognition and decision-making suggest that there is a “sixth sense” through which humans can detect and act on unique patterns without consciously and intentionally analyzing them. Evidence is accumulating that this capability, known as intuition or intuitive decision making, enables the rapid detection of patterns in ambiguous, uncertain and time restricted information contexts, that it informs the decision making process and, most importantly, that it may not require domain expertise to be effective. These properties make intuition a strong candidate for further exploration as the basis for developing a new set of decision support training technologies. The proposed topic will lead to new insights into intuitive decision making, and develop new approaches for enhancing this process.
(via Adam Flynn)
By definition, a computer is a machine that processes and stores data as ones and zeroes. But the U.S. Department of Defense wants to tear up that definition and start from scratch.
Through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the DoD is funding a new program called UPSIDE, short for Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation. Basically, the program will investigate a brand-new way of doing computing without the digital processors that have come to define computing as we know it.
The aim is to build computer chips that are a whole lot more power-efficient than today’s processors — even if they make mistakes every now and then.
The way Darpa sees it, today’s computers — especially those used by mobile spy cameras in drones and helicopters that have to do a lot of image processing — are starting to hit a dead end. The problem isn’t processing. It’s power, says Daniel Hammerstrom, the Darpa program manager behind UPSIDE. And it’s been brewing for more than a decade.
Remember how earlier this year Regina Dugan, the former director of DARPA, took a job at Google? Now we know what she’s up to there:
Google has also created a department within Motorola—Advanced Technology and Projects—comprised of researchers charged with finding cutting-edge technologies that could give Motorola’s products an edge. And the executive refresh includes a new senior vice president, Regina Dugan, a former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s long-term research arm. […]
But whether the DARPA research model can work in the fast-evolving world of smartphones is unclear, says Chetan Sharma, a wireless analyst in Seattle. “Regina does bring in outside perspective specially related to projects that are leaps, versus incremental steps,” he says. “However, this will need to be executed under the constraints of competition, time, and money.”
While DARPA has had some storied successes—such as the precursor to the Internet—it also freely admits that it often fails. And it has pursued some odd projects, such as setting up a research program to figure out how to reassemble shredded documents.
Jon Bardin wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education on how science can be weaponized, even decades after it’s conducted. For example, this DARPA project is based on unrelated research from the 1960s:
In a small, anonymous office in the Trump Tower, 28 floors above Wall Street, a man sits in front of a computer screen sifting through satellite images of a foreign desert. The images depict a vast, sandy emptiness, marked every so often by dunes and hills. He is searching for man-made structures: houses, compounds, airfields, any sign of civilization that might be visible from the sky. The images flash at a rate of 20 per second, so fast that before he can truly perceive the details of each landscape, it is gone. He pushes no buttons, takes no notes. His performance is near perfect.
Or rather, his brain’s performance is near perfect. The man has a machine strapped to his head, an array of electrodes called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, which is recording his brain activity as each image skips by. It then sends the brain-activity data wirelessly to a large computer. The computer has learned what the man’s brain activity looks like when he sees one of the visual targets, and, based on that information, it quickly reshuffles the images. When the man sorts back through the hundreds of images—most without structures, but some with—almost all the ones with buildings in them pop to the front of the pack. His brain and the computer have done good work.
DARPA is trying to put me out of a job:
They look a bit like communally written Wikipedia pages. But these articles—concise profiles of people and organizations, complete with lists of connected organizations, people, and events—were in fact written by computers, in a new bid by the Pentagon to build machines that can follow global news events and provide intelligence analysts with useful summaries in close to real time. […]
On the new site, if you search for information on the Nigerian jihadist movement Boko Haram, you get this entirely computer-generated summary: “Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, Boko Haram is led by Ibrahim Abubakar Shekau. (Former leaders include Mohammed Yusuf.) It has headquarters in Maiduguri. It has been described as ‘a new radical fundamentalist sect,’ ‘the main anchor for mayhem in the state,’ ‘a fractured sect with no clear structure,’ and ‘the misguided extremist sect.’ “
Lucky for me:
The profile of Barack Obama, for example, correctly identifies him as the president of the United States, but then summarizes him this way: “Obama has been described as ‘Nobel Peace Prize winner,’ ‘the only reasonable guy in the room,’ ‘an anti-apartheid campus divestment activist,’ and ‘the most trusted politician in the CR-poll.’ “
At another point it notes, “Obama is married to Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama; other family members include Henry Healy, Malia Obama, and Ann Dunham.” (Healy is a distant Obama cousin from Moneygall, Ireland. Obama’s younger daughter, Sasha, isn’t mentioned.)
The system lacks real-world knowledge that would help a human analyst recognize something as false, humorous, or plainly irrelevant.
Yes, it’s a far cry from replacing your favorite non-fiction writers, but the possibility that this sort of thing could start to cut into the total number of paid writing and editing positions in the next few years is starting to get real.
RIA Novosti reports on Putin’s plan for the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defense Industry, a Russian equivalent to DARPA.
President Vladimir Putin has submitted to parliament a bill on the foundation’s establishment, which is expected to become Russia’s answer to the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The foundation will be tasked with informing the country’s leadership on projects that can ensure Russian superiority in defense technology.
It will also analyze the risks of any Russian technological backwardness and technological dependence on other powers.
(via Wired Danger Room)