DARPA Innovations Advance National Security
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 21, 2014 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Information Innovation Office, or I2O, is hosting DARPA Demo Day 2014 in the Pentagon’s courtyard today to highlight the agency’s ongoing contributions to preserving and expanding the Defense Department’s information technology superiority.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Big Mechanism program aims to leapfrog state-of-the-art big data analytics by developing automated technologies -- illustrated by this information flow chart -- to help explain the causes and effects that drive complicated systems such as diseases like cancer. DARPA graphic
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Pentagon event has a focus on information technology and it showcases more than 100 projects that push for game-changing improvements to national security. IT, according to DARPA, is a key enabler for DOD and has been a focus area for DARPA since its establishment in 1958.
“The information revolution has been a huge boon to society,” I2O Director Daniel Kaufman said, adding, “but our growing dependence on information networks also means that information is today’s tactical and strategic high ground, increasingly targeted by adversaries from everyday criminals to networked terrorists who would do our nation mortal harm.”
Kaufman said I2O’s mission is to ensure the safety and reliability of essential information technologies against challenges the nation faces today and those in the future.
DARPA contributions include its development and prototyping of technology for what is now the Internet.
The DOD currently enjoys IT superiority, according to a DARPA press statement, but that superiority can’t be taken for granted.
The Pentagon event showcases an array of DARPA projects designed, as DARPA officials describe it, to quickly and profoundly change the way the nation addresses growing national security challenges posed by the information revolution and by the increasing global availability of sophisticated information technologies.
DOD officials, defense contractors and invited public-sector innovators heard DARPA program managers and project principals describe their progress toward game-changing advances in areas such as cybersecurity, networked warfighter systems, language translation and decision support.
Together, according to the DARPA statement, the displays pointed to a future in which networks will be increasingly resilient to natural and human-launched threats. And in that future, lightning-fast detection of emergent, information-related irregularities, including potential threats, will inform equally fast correctives and countermeasures.
Advanced data analysis, automation and fusion technologies will enable the timely extraction of actionable, previously inaccessible insights from mountains of raw information, DARPA says, and enable sharing those insights through cutting-edge collaboration, data visualization and user-interface technologies.
The event highlighted 29 programs in four categories. Cyber includes approaches to maintaining IT systems safety and security. Big Data includes tools to facilitate the use of information at scale.
Language includes translation technologies to help warfighters communicate more effectively in foreign-language environments. And warfighter apps, which include other initiatives of great interest to DOD, such as the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program in DARPA’s new Biological Technologies Office.
Among the I2O programs on display were the following:
-- DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge, CGC: To be launched this summer, CGC will be the first-ever tournament for testing fully automatic network defense systems. The competition’s goal is to vastly improve the speed, scale and effectiveness of IT security against escalating cyber threats.
-- High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems, HACMS: Seeks to protect networked, embedded IT systems from cyberattack by creating semi-automated systems that build software according to formal methods and check that the created code is secure and works as intended.
-- Big Mechanism: Aims to leapfrog state-of-the-art big-data analytics by developing automated technologies to help explain causes and effects that drive complicated systems. Initial efforts will focus on research relating to cancer pathways.
-- Memex: Seeks to develop next-generation search technologies and revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of public-domain search results. Initially, DARPA intends to develop Memex to address fighting human trafficking.
-- Broad Operational Language Translation, BOLT: Seeks to create new techniques for automated translation and linguistic analysis that can be applied to informal text and speech common in online and in-person communication.
At DARPA, Kaufman said, “we help make the tools of the information revolution more powerful and useful, not just for those who ensure our security but also for the people and nations they protect.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)