For more than 50 years the mad scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—aka DARPA, the outrageous research arm of the Pentagon—have been launching the most disruptive technologies on earth, living up to their mantra of “high risk—high payoff.” We have DARPA to thank for the personal computer, the Internet, the Berkeley Unix system, most of NASA, and countless crazy military innovations. Their mission is to think beyond the possible and forever be three decades ahead. In this talk we will dig into, and present the relevant parts of, DARPA’s $3 billion-dollar budget, pulling out the most amazing and most-likely-to-reach-fruition projects. Think electromagnetic bazookas, telepathic soldiers, ape-inspired robots, memory chips in brains, shapeshifting planes and boats. It might sound like sci-fi, but given its inspired history it seems that analyzing DARPA’s current projects will give us one of the clearest views into our future reality. Fasten your seat belts.
Christie Nicholson is a science journalist based in New York. She hosts Scientific American's podcasts 60-Second Mind, 60-Second Science and produces 60-Second Earth. She is an on-air contributor to Web and TV shows on Slate, Babelgum, Scientific American, the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. As special projects editor at Scientific American she helped develop two video series, Instant Egghead and The Monitor. A graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism, she co-created the "Science of Sex," that won two Webby Awards. Nicholson has spoken at many organizations about emerging technologies that have game-changing potential, including the MIT/Stanford VLAB, the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the Space Studies Board and Brookhaven National Laboratory.
John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. He also creates original short films about science and technology for top media brands like Conde Nast, NPR, Slate, Nature Publishing Group, and The New York Times Magazine through his production company, Small Mammal. He lives in Brooklyn.
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