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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.
The mission of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is to make strategic, early investments in science and technology that will have long-term positive impact on our nation's national security. As part of this mission, DARPA makes high-risk, high-reward investments in science and technology that have the potential to disrupt current understanding and/or approaches. The pace of discovery in both science and technology is accelerating worldwide, resulting in new fields of study and the identification of scientific areas ripe for disruption.