The Pentagon's Brain

“Orwellian” “Is it wise to let DARPA determine what lies ahead?”

  • In pentagon until 1972
  • 71 interviews
  • Lawrence Livermore National Lab started 1954 with 123 employees to build H bomb
  • Von Neumann RAND and ENIAC -> EDVAC -> MANIAC
  • Tells the unexpected panic version of the sputnik story
  • “Veture capitalist H Rowan Gaither
  • Gaither Report - no way to protect US but should build up nuclear arsenal
    • Apparently wrong numbers and didn’t have the right info
    • Rejected by Eisenhower but leaked to press
  • McElroy (Inventor of soap opera) came up with idea for ARPA
  • Eisenhower liked ARPA idea - contractors and services did not
  • Herb York becomes first DARPA chief scientist
  • Summer 1958 - York got top science people together
  • Project 137 to discuss Christofilos effect - explode a bunch of nukes in the atmosphere
  • Actually went and tried it in a few months - another thing for FAST
  • J-Site to detect missiles early
    • Accidentally detected moon as missiles - too powerful
    • Comouter screwup
  • Formation of JASON group
  • PENetration AIDS - and thus starts the silly names
  • JASONs didn’t let DARPA people come to meeting
  • Seesaw to do directed energy weapons to address ICBMs
  • Disccovere + Mice + Classified Corona mission
  • ARPA early satellites
    • mapping, weather,
    • Some inherited
  • William Godel director of office of foreign development/poolicy and planning
    • Wanted to create a field office in Saigon - Porject Agile
      • Dog scent program
      • silent planes and boats
      • AR-15 rifle -> M16
      • Gadgets
      • Agent Orange
  • John F Kennedy removed Herb York replaced with Harold Brown
  • RAND got involved - Strategic hamlet program
  • J.C.R. Licklider - started 1962 hired to build command and control systems
    • Wrote Man-Computer Symbiosis at Lincoln Laboratory
    • SAGE was the first computer that people multitasked on
    • Behavioral Sciences Program - using computers for teaching -
    • Idea of using computers to predict behavior
  • Jack Ruina asked Lucklider to give a series of lectures and then hired him
  • Project EMOTE to try to cause forest fires
  • ADSID sensors to detect people along by / electronic fence to kill people walking by
  • ARPA researching nonlethal weapons in response to protests in late 60s
  • ‘Nile Blue’ weather modification
  • ILLIAC IV - giant computer both for weather stuff and nuclear stuff
  • Mike Mansfield - bill to prohibit DoD from spending on anything unless directly related to a specific military function - Led directly to ARPA becoming DARPA
  • Director Rechtin - ARPA a ‘pre-requirement’ organization
  • “There is a kind of chicken-and-egg problem in other words, in requirements and technology,” Rechtin explained. “The difficulty is that it is hard to write formal requirements if you do not have the technology with which to solve them, but you cannot do the technology unless you have the requirements.” The agency’s dilemma, said Rechtin, was this: if you can’t do the research before a need arises, by the time the need is there, it’s clear that the research should already have been done”
  • Pentagon papers made JASON scientists look terrible
  • Ivan Sutherland and Robert Taylorfollowed J.C.R. Licklider
    • Asked people what they thought about the idea
  • Robert Kahn ‘worked with’ PM Vint Cerf to make TCP/IP
  • Lots of papers describing visions that actually happened - Jack Thorpe - “Aircrew Training”
    • Became program managers - had drawings
    • 17 million
    • SIMNET - became MMORPGS? ::evidence?::
  • Charles Towns inspired to build X ray by a 1926 sci fo novel
  • DARPA created tomahawk missile engines and steal th fighter aircraft
  • ARPA responsible for night vision
  • Biological weapons became high priority for DARPA in the 90’s
  • 1999 - Hadron Advanced Biosystems for a general anti disease tool - Ken Alibek
  • Exoskeletons - Gorman
  • Simulations as a way to show how good a concept could be
  • 1999 created DSO and made Michael Goldblatt director
    • VP of R&D at McDonalds
    • Pain Vaccine
    • 1999 remote control rats
  • Total Information Awareness program - congress can cut things off but it takes a lot of work
  • DARPA’s long term goals subordinated to pentagon needing IED solutions
  • First year’s budget for Human Terrain System: $31million
  • 430g drone in 2005
    • This could have been commercialized
  • Surveillance system of systems
  • Bomb detecting bees! (Army didn’t want to deploy them)
  • Bomb robots (but not enough because of army) z
  • Biosystems, biomimetics, biohybrids
    • Black widow drone Aerovironment
    • Insect cyborgs in 2009
  • HTV-2 : Mach 20
    “Carl Sagan once stated, “It is suicidal to create a society dependent on science and technology in which hardly anybody knows anything about the science and technology.”

Excerpt From: Annie Jacobsen. “The Pentagon's Brain.” Apple Books.


“The programs written about in this book are all unclassified. DARPA’s highest-risk, highest-payoff programs remain secret until they are unveiled on the battlefield. ”

Excerpt From: Annie Jacobsen. “The Pentagon's Brain.” Apple Books.





DARPA basically defined modern warfare - laser guided bombs from stealth air



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