Wait, What? was a forum on future technologies … on their potential to radically change how we live and work, and on the opportunities and challenges these technologies will raise within the broadly defined domain of national security. Hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and rooted in what's already happening in today's fastest evolving research fields, Wait, What? was designed to be a crucible for generating ideas that can stretch current conceptual horizons and accelerate the development of novel capabilities in the years and decades ahead.
Who Was It For?
Wait, What? was geared towards forward-thinking scientists, engineers and other innovators interested in thinking interactively about the nature and scope of future technologies, their potential application to tomorrow's technical and societal challenges and the quandaries those applications may themselves engender.
What Was the Benefit?
The boundaries between scientific and technological disciplines such as biology, engineering and data science are fast disappearing, and remarkable insights and capabilities are emerging at those turbulent, transitioning intersections. Many innovators today are taking advantage of this rich intellectual and technical environment to pursue extraordinary new opportunities. Wait, What? considered current and future advances in the physical and information sciences, engineering and mathematics through the lens of current and future national and global security dynamics, to reveal potentially attractive avenues of technological pursuit and to catalyze non-obvious synergies among participants.
As the federal R&D agency tasked with preventing and fomenting strategic technological surprise, DARPA is committed to envisioning and ultimately shaping new technological trajectories. It does so in part by fostering discussions among leaders on the forward edge of change—to learn from them about emerging technologies worthy of attention or support, and to inspire them to consider applying their expertise to the important and rewarding worlds of public service and national security.
How Did It Work?
Wait, What? was a fast-paced gathering at which world-renowned thinkers and innovators from inside and outside DARPA offered perspectives on where today's advances are heading. Through a variety of channels, everyone was encouraged to help extend those ideas further into the future. In addition to plenary sessions focused on topics of broad import and interest, Wait, What? offered multiple themed breakout sessions, allowing participants to dive more deeply into particular topics. An exhibit area featured displays describing a selection of DARPA programs that reflect the breadth of the agency's work and range of its performers.
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