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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

November 6, 2011

can interpret behavior and identify potential threats – “…The Visual Intelligence Grounded in Learning (VIGIL) project is part of the larger DARPA program known as Mind’s Eye, which is to develop a smart camera system that needs minimal human supervision, can be deployed rapidly and cost effectively in unmanned vehicles (UVs) stationed in areas under automatic surveillance, and can interpret behavior and identify potential threats from video data. “Surveillance in dangerous areas is currently performed by remote reconnaissance teams and advanced scouting patrols, who are often risking their lives,” said Hung Bui, SRI’s senior computer scientist. “While their efforts can be supplemented through the use of cameras on unmanned vehicles, such devices still require constant human monitoring to analyze ongoing activities. SRI’s VIGIL system combines automatic reasoning and machine perception to automatically analyze areas of interest while keeping members of the armed forces out of harm’s way…” (DARPA Picks Visual Intelligence System’s Design Leader)

advanced human-computer Interaction – “…Lockheed said that analysts go through volumes of disparate ISR data from sea, air, and land assets to produce an integrated view of critical information for the warfighter. It is difficult for analysts to easily share and integrate that data. The creation of the new InsightOS will enable automated combining of sensor and intelligence data from multiple assets, dynamically re-tasking assets as necessary, and incorporating analysts into the process via advanced Human-Computer Interaction tools. As a result, the fidelity and speed of battlefield analyses will improve, increasing mission success and warfighter safety. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services…” (Lockheed to Help Analyze Data)

neuro-optical system – “…Awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System program, or CT2WS, is part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s effort to address a key mission need and represents a significant leap forward in technology from that available today. The goal of the CT2WS program is to drive a breakthrough in soldier-portable visual threat warning devices. Once successfully developed, the intelligent neuro-optical system will provide the warfighter with an unprecedented capability to detect targets of interest at an extremely long range over a wide field of view. In Phase One of the program, the Northrop Grumman team plans to demonstrate the concept by building a breadboard system and complete a preliminary design for the company’s Human-aided Optical Recognition/Notification of Elusive Threats (HORNET) system. HORNET will utilize a custom helmet equipped with electro-encephalogram electrodes placed on the scalp to record the user’s continuous electrical brain activity. The operator’s neural responses to the presence or absence of potential threats will train the system’s algorithms, which will continue to be refined over time so that the warfighter is always presented with items of relevance to his mission. “Northrop Grumman’s HORNET system leverages the latest advances in real-time coupling of human brain activity with automated cognitive neural processing to provide superior target detection,” says Michael House, Northrop Grumman’s CT2WS program manager. “The system will maintain persistent surveillance in order to defeat an enemy’s attempts to surprise through evasive move-stop-move tactics, giving the U.S. warfighter as much as a 20-minute advantage over his adversaries…” (Northrop Grumman-Led Team Awarded Contract to Develop Electronic Binoculars That Use Brain Activity to Detect Threats)

microchip in the brain – “…The arm, which was developed at a cost of over $100 million by DARPA and Johns Hopkins University over the past five years, is controlled by a microchip in the brain. The microchip records neuron activity and decodes the signals to activate motor neurons that control the prosthetic. DARPA’s prosthetic works much like a regular arm, with the ability to bend, rotate, and twist in 27 different ways. It is designed to restore almost complete hand and finger function to patients dealing with spinal cord injury, stroke, or amputation. Now that the arm has been expedited through the FDA’s program, Johns Hopkins will implant its microchips in five patients and monitor them for a year. There are few safety concerns, but the university anticipates issues with maintaining chip quality over time, according to the a href=”http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/09/nation/la-na-prosthetic-arms-20110209″ target=”_blank”>Los Angeles Times. If all goes well, the arm could be on the market in just four to five years…” (DARPA’s Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Could Be on the Market in Four Years)

electrical current to the brain – “…Applying electricity to the brain has a long and at times dark history. Doctors, psychiatrists and other researchers have known for hundreds of years that applying electrical current to the brain can cause changes; some good, some not so much. Electrical stimulation has been used to keep executed prisoners from twitching after death, to “help” patients overcome depression and more recently to help people with injuries or brain impairments to regain functionality. This history now colors any new research as fear and skepticism tend to get in the way of serious work. This is likely the reason that this new research is being done by DARPA, rather than an independent organization; it doesn’t have to answer to anyone except the DoD. Because the amount of current is so small, volunteers report no pain, just a slight tingling sensation during the procedure, and afterwards can offer no real explanations as to why they performed better than they might have otherwise. This research, and other studies like it, have set off both alarms and intrigue in certain quarters. Some worry people, such as college students will jump on the procedure as a means to help cram for exams, others wonder if electronic devices such as blue-tooth phones are emitting electricity that might help them learn; while others yet point out, very soberly, that no one really knows just yet what long-term effects people might have from exposure to something as simple as tCDS…” (DARPA takes new look at electrical brain stimulation to aid in learning)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies which have had a major effect on the world, including computer networking, as well as NLS, which was both the first hypertext system, and an important precursor to the contemporary ubiquitous graphical user interface. Its original name was simply Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), but it was renamed to “DARPA” (for Defense) in March 1972, then renamed “ARPA” again in February 1993, and then renamed “DARPA” again in March 1996. DARPA was established during 1958 (as ARPA) in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik during 1957, with the mission of keeping U.S. military technology more sophisticated than that of the nation’s potential enemies. From DARPA’s own introduction, DARPA’s original mission, established in 1958, was to prevent technological surprise like the launch of Sputnik, which signaled that the Soviets had beaten the U.S. into space. The mission statement has evolved over time. Today, DARPA’s mission is still to prevent technological surprise to the US, but also to create technological surprise for its enemies. DARPA is independent from other more conventional military R&D and reports directly to senior Department of Defense management. DARPA has around 240 personnel (about 140 technical) directly managing a $3.2 billion budget. These figures are “on average” since DARPA focuses on short-term (two to four-year) projects run by small, purpose-built teams. (Wikepedia)


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