Tagged With darpa

The U.S. Army is hard at work imagining what the human-machine hybrids of the future will be able to accomplish on the battlefields of 2050. But the folks in charge of keeping America safe also have their concerns. Specifically, the U.S. Army is worried that humans are biased against deadly cyborg soldiers, just because we’ve all seen the Terminator franchise and it doesn’t work out very well for the humans.

Fifty years ago today, on October 29, 1969, the internet was born. It was a humble beginning—a single login from a computer terminal at University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) to the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the Bay Area. But it was a tiny baby step that would eventually catapult the world into the information age.

What were those two strange objects flying over Kansas City, Missouri yesterday? Plenty of people took to Twitter to speculate that they might be anything from internet balloons for Google’s Project Loon to slimy green aliens. But in reality, they’re almost certainly Darpa’s new test balloons. What was Darpa testing? How to fly around without propulsion.

Top researchers in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) have called for a boycott of the South Korean university KAIST after it opened a lab with the defence firm Hanwha Systems. Even if you're not familiar with KAIST, you might know some of the school's robots. The university won the top prize at the last DARPA Robotics Challenge in 2015 with its highly advanced DRC-HUBO robot.

You probably scratched your head last year if you read about time crystals, likely 2017's most esoteric, widely covered popular science story. Even if you understood how they worked, you might not have known what use they could have. Time crystals, systems of atoms that maintain a periodic ticking behaviour in the presence of an added electromagnetic pulse, have now piqued the interest of one well-funded government agency: The US Department of Defence.

On stage at Body Hacking Con this weekend, DARPA director of biological technologies Justin Sanchez ran through an impressive list of the sort of government projects that might interest people attending a conference about the integration of humans and tech, including plans to prevent global pandemics by turning the body into bioreactor and to restore memory through technologies like brain computer interfaces.

A powerful and controversial new genetic engineering technology called a gene drive offers the potential to drastically reshape our world by overriding natural selection. And the US military's research arm is among one of the technology's biggest research funders.

These days, it seems you're nobody if you're not working on a way to merge machines with the human brain. Earlier this year, both Facebook and perpetual moonshot-enthusiast Elon Musk announced plans for brain-computer interfaces that could allow us to read the thoughts of others and improve our capacity for learning. Today, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency announced plans to spend $US65 million ($85.5 million) developing advanced neural implants that connect our brains to computers in order to treat sensory deficits such as blindness.

If the brain is just a bunch of wires and circuits, it stands to reason that those components can simply be re-wired in order to create a better, smarter us. At least, that's the theory behind a new project from the military's secretive DARPA research branch announced on Wednesday, which aims to enhance human cognitive ability by activating what's known as "synaptic plasticity".

"It sounds impossible but it's closer than you may realise," Facebook's Regina Dugan recently told audience members at the F8 developer conference. Dugan was referring to the social network's plans to read users' thoughts. Just in time to inject some practical considerations into that terrifying scenario, researchers have proposed four new human rights to protect our minds from those who might have the worst intentions.