Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Foundational Strategic Technologies and Systems

Versatile enabling technologies that could lead to entire new classes of capabilities

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ARPA research played a central role in launching the “Information Revolution,” including developing or furthering much of the conceptual basis for ARPANET, a pioneering network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers. Its initial demonstration in 1969 led to the Internet, whose world-changing consequences unfold on a daily basis today. A seminal step in this sequence took place in 1968 when ARPA contracted BBN Technologies to build the first routers, which one year later enabled ARPANET to become operational.

As part of an ARPA-funded experiment to find better ways for computer users to interact with computers, Douglas Engelbart of SRI—who would later work on the DARPA-sponsored ARPANET project, the Internet’s precursor—invented the computer mouse. The first mouse was carved out of wood and had just one button. Later incarnations such as this early Logitech® mouse led to the diversity of mice now on desktops around the world.

The mouse was an early example of many innovations that DARPA would help nurture into various components of the information technology landscape over the next five decades. In What Will Be (HarperCollins, 1997), author Michael Dertouzos credits DARPA with “… between a third and a half of all the major innovations in computer science and technology.”

Special Assistant to the DARPA Director/Army Operational Liaison
Colonel Michael Fazen joined DARPA in 2018 as the special assistant to the director and U.S. Army operational liaison. Previously, he served as the U.S. Africa Command J65 Enterprise Service Manager in Stuttgart, Germany.
The advance of technology has evolved the roles of humans and machines in conflict from direct confrontations between humans to engagements mediated by machines. Originally, humans engaged in primitive forms of combat. With the advent of the industrial era, however, humans recognized that machines could greatly enhance their warfighting capabilities. Networks then enabled teleoperation, which eventually proved vulnerable to electronic attack and subject to constraint due to long signal propagation distances and times. The next stage in warfare will involve more capable autonomous systems, but before we can allow such machines to supplement human warfighters, they must achieve far greater levels of intelligence.