DARPA - the defense advanced research project agency was created in response to Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in orbit, but it wasn’t America that launched it, it was the Soviet’s during the Cold War. With the idea that we never wanted to be surprised again and that perhaps we could create some technological surprise ourselves, ARPA (DARPA’s predecessor) was born.
DARPA of course invests in these technologies for National Security, but in some cases it leads to things we use everyday.Obviously, things like computers, the 'net, and GPS. Also pushing development of Drones and promotion of self-driving cars.
They recently hosted a conference in St. Louis called, “Wait, What? - A Future Technology Forum". I had to see what it was all about.
DARPA is also well known for their “challenges”. The first back in 2004 was a grand challenge for the self driving car, initially the teams did pretty terrible, but after that they redid the challenge to quite a bit of success, and 11 years later we are starting to see this technology in the private sector. If you’ve ever been to Mountain View, you’ve certainly seen one of Google’s cars driving around. One of the reason they run these challenges is to get a diverse group of people involved in solving the problem. Earlier this year, we covered the Robotics Challenge, which had teams from all over the world competing to build a rescue robot. From self driving cars to predictive analysis for disease - there have been many challenge. The next one is to build a robust computer security system, that knows it’s being attacked, and can even thwart it.