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Old 11 February 2019, 10:03
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The Pentagon's Brains: The Uncensored History of DARPA

LINK

By Annie Jacobsen who also authored Area 51 (LINK) which how I found this book.

She calls it the Uncensored history but Unclassified would have been more accurate but not as attention getting. There is some very minor overlap of information about the early AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) from her area 51 book but not enough to feel like you are reading the same thing twice.

It focuses on the history of ARPA (then DARPA) as the creation of the agency is a result of the Sputnik launch and how the US was caught of guard not knowing how far along the Russians were. ARPA was created to develop and maintain technological superiority and prevent "strategic surprises".

The early sections follow the history of the development of nuclear weapons, building into the development frenzy of the Vietnam war. She writes that the M-16 was derived from the AR-15 to provide a lighter weapon that would be easier for the smaller Vietnamese soldiers to handle but it was then adopted as the standard issue rifle. This is the first time I have heard any such thing about being developed for the Vietnamese use.

She describes the electronic sensor program that involved dropping a variety of sensors on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to detect and track movements.

Of course the development of ARPANET and how it lead to the creation of the computer network we now know as the internet.

Segueing from Vietnam into the 80s and 90s was the development of remote control and drone aircraft as well The development of GPS and other such programs.
This expands into nanotech and micro-drones.

The really interesting parts were the later chapters in which she wrote about enhancing human performance or augmenting capabilities. Concepts from exoskeletons to exploring the suppression of pain and fear and fatigue either through pharmaceuticals or neurological stimulation/suppression.

Robotics were well discussed in the later chapters to include the now well known EOD robots.

She also gets into how DARPA explored prosthetics for the purpose of assisting wounded soldiers. There seemed to be a focus on establishing a way for the wearer of the prosthetic to control it with thoughts or stimulus. It would also work the other way where the prosthetic could provide a sensation of touch with the goal being that the user could tell the difference between a grape and a raisin without looking at it. many of these experiments involved wounded soldiers and in one interview, the volunteer questioned DARPA's motivations because the VA was never involved nor since the experiments have any of the developments been made available to the VA or manufacturers of prosthetic. the veteran interviewed felt that they were trying to improve limbs for the use of robotics rather than prosthetics.

Even more interesting were the descriptions of DARPA exploring nanotechnology to include it's use on organisms. It went beyond implanting electrodes in rat brains to train them to respond to stimulus. It is claimed that they implanted minature electrodes into a moth larvae after which the moth would continue to develop. When it was fully grown and hatched, the microprocessor and electrodes were a part of the organism and they could control/track where it flew.

It was alluded that they could put this technology into small insect drones combined with facial recognition to track terrorists and notify of location as well provide video intelligence. Possible weaponization to kill selected individual targets.


She concluded the last chapter by exploring the perpetual question of ethics in technological development and the problems with mitigating unintended consequences. Especially in the areas of robotics and artificial intelligence. As machine learning advances, at what point do you lose control regardless of the instructions, rules, or safeguards put into place? She was not alarmist like the X-files but presented is for thought and discussion along with referring to Eisenhower and his warning of the military-Industrial Complex noting that members of DARPA and the newer Defense Science Board are also executives for contractors and private industry.

I highly recommend it overall.
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Old 2 May 2019, 11:07
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I cringe when books about military things include the words Uncensored or Untold in the title. It suggests either leaking classified information, discussing technologies under development that could inspire foreign entities to pursue countermeasures, or revealing methods and techniques that could give our enemies an advantage or less of a disadvantage, or exposing behaviors that civilians wouldn't understand but would leap to misinterpret. For example, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage was wrong on a few points and misinterpreted a few others, but revealed to way too many people things they had no useful business knowing.
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Old 2 May 2019, 11:17
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Originally Posted by ET1/ss nuke View Post
I cringe when books about military things include the words Uncensored or Untold in the title. It suggests either leaking classified information, discussing technologies under development that could inspire foreign entities to pursue countermeasures, or revealing methods and techniques that could give our enemies an advantage or less of a disadvantage, or exposing behaviors that civilians wouldn't understand but would leap to misinterpret. For example, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage was wrong on a few points and misinterpreted a few others, but revealed to way too many people things they had no useful business knowing.
I was talking to a BTDT guy I work with the other day about this. He’s always taken aback when he hears things thrown around freely, things he was told he was never allowed to talk about.
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Old 2 May 2019, 15:29
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Her books are comprised of painstaking years long research involving scores of FOIA requests and interviews of things actually involved. The titling is probably publishing/marketing language.
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Old 3 May 2019, 10:02
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Originally Posted by 256 View Post
I was talking to a BTDT guy I work with the other day about this. He’s always taken aback when he hears things thrown around freely, things he was told he was never allowed to talk about.
If the gov/mil wasn't so utterly ridiculous (ie lazy) with its classification system, people would take it more seriously. Currently, it looks like it exists to cover up crimes against the American people. And lets be real, nothing is going to come out in a book - that a foreign, remote access trojan, from a spearfished email, doesn't already know about - or a piece of pussy obtained.
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Old 4 May 2019, 06:56
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I'll be the Amazon algorithm:

If you liked this book, you might like Ann Finkbeiner, The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite. It explores the panel of the leading scientists who, from the 1950s through the 1980s, provided scientific knowledge at the highest levels to the office of the president for solving, or at least thinking about, problems that related to national security. Igloo White, which you mention in your summation, connects to the JASONS as well.

Also, I'd recommend (though drier) Jeffrey T. Richelson, The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Different stories, organizational as well as "newly declassified revelations!" approach, much less breathless than a journalist's fast writeup.
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Old 7 May 2019, 03:43
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Originally Posted by Armitage12 View Post
I'll be the Amazon algorithm:

If you liked this book, you might like Ann Finkbeiner, The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite. It explores the panel of the leading scientists who, from the 1950s through the 1980s, provided scientific knowledge at the highest levels to the office of the president for solving, or at least thinking about, problems that related to national security. Igloo White, which you mention in your summation, connects to the JASONS as well.

Also, I'd recommend (though drier) Jeffrey T. Richelson, The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Different stories, organizational as well as "newly declassified revelations!" approach, much less breathless than a journalist's fast writeup.
Cheers for that.

Jason’s are still around, for now:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/JASON_(advisory_group)

Funding has been cut, but might get funded by another org.
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Old 7 May 2019, 08:21
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Funding has been cut, but might get funded by another org.
The Chinese are free with their cash these days.
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Old 7 May 2019, 17:38
Colonel Flagg Colonel Flagg is offline
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Originally Posted by ET1/ss nuke View Post
The Chinese are free with their cash these days.
Yes. They. Are.

And not just with hoovering up all the duel use “bits” compared to Cold War duel use “atoms”, but also with their One Belt One Road initiative that makes the Marshall Plan look like a drop in the bucket.

For those that like to geek out on “the Jasons”/DARPA-like awesomeness, check out a book on the Israeli Talpiot Program:

https://www.amazon.com/Israels-Edge-Story-Elite-Talpiot/dp/9652297135

As well as every book by Steve Blank: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTC_RxWN_xo

His talk on The history of Silicon Valley being intertwined with the US military since day 1 is a must for .MIL nerds.

Steve also co-founded Hacking4Defense at Stanford U that has been spreading across 5 Eyes/NATO.
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  #10  
Old 8 May 2019, 06:24
Armitage12 Armitage12 is offline
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Originally Posted by Colonel Flagg View Post
His talk on The history of Silicon Valley being intertwined with the US military since day 1 is a must for .MIL nerds.
That intertwined relationship actually predates Fairchild Semiconductor and the beginnings of Silicon Valley as we normally think of it. The origins lie in the early 20th century.
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