Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

“The Nation’s Elite Army of Futuristic Techno-Geeks”

June 8th, 2011 / in policy, research horizons / by Erwin Gianchandani

DARPA Director Regina Dugan speaks at the D9 Conference [image courtesy The Wall Street Journal].Calling her colleagues the “best-in-class scientists and engineers [who] come to serve their country,” DARPA Director Regina Dugan described in a recent interview at the D9 Conference how her agency is driving technological innovations that better enable our nation’s military to “create and prevent strategic surprise.” Among the topics she discussed was cybersecurity:

One of the things we have been investigating is how you design hardware and software within a computer so that you can determine yourself, or the computer itself can evolve, based on its own experience with threat. It’s modeled after the human immune system. An awful lot of the reason that people haven’t investigated these types of approaches previously is they argue they aren’t economically viable.


Well, we’re approaching, I think, a time, or moments in time, where the technology — as we move to smartphones, for example — allows us to investigate new fundamental architectures that could alter the cybersecurity landscape fundamentally.


And that’s really our job: to provide new options there that open up the aperture of space and possibilities.

Dugan further emphasized how DARPA’s work — while focused on the military — has important benefits to society at large:

Defense is essentially a mini-society, and it has all the problems of the society as a whole: communications, health care — all number of those issues we face in this mini-society that have to be deployable anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. So it’s no small coincidence that the things that we would advance for that mini-society would have cascading implications for the society as a whole.


We’re working on technology now that would allow us to produce vaccines in tobacco plants. We do it for biological warfare defense, but it has implications for the pandemic outbreak of some other types of disease.

And she noted how DARPA’s success requires a partnership with the broader community:

…We look for ideas in all number of places: in universities, in small businesses and large businesses. Our program managers come and serve for three to five years, and they run projects. And those projects have a very specific focus, and then they catalyze the bridging of ideas across communities. It’s really a very exciting thing.

You can read an extended transcript spanning much of the interview — and watch an 8-minute video clip — here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“The Nation’s Elite Army of Futuristic Techno-Geeks”

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