Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about DARPA

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Friday 11th March 2011

  • U.S. Military's Mad Science Revealed

    by Christie Nicholson, John Pavlus and Christopher Mims

    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.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

Sunday 13th March 2011

  • Urban Technology on the Dark Side

    by Molly Wright Steenson and Benjamin Bratton

    Urban computing isn't just fun, games and mapping. There's a dark side to urban technology, with surveillance and subversion in operation and in opposition. It shouldn’t be a surprise: most technologies we use were originally developed in the military before making their way to the civilian side. But mostly, when we talk about urban computing, we tend to focus on its optimistic and entertaining uses.

    This panel confronts the relationship of cities to technology. Some things it will discuss: how soldiers literally cut holes in walls to through houses in urban wars; how the government creates geographically dark spaces on the map and launches secret satellites; and the role of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in giving rise to urban technologies we use today – to name a few. In balance, we’ll look at the ways that artists, activists, designers, architects and hackers reveal and challenge these shadowy-seeming technologies in their work.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

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