DARPA’s podcast series, "Voices from DARPA," offers a revealing and informative window on the minds of the Agency's program managers. In each episode, a program manager from one of DARPA’s six technical offices—Biological Technologies, Defense Sciences, Information Innovation, Microsystems Technology, Strategic Technology, and Tactical Technology—will discuss in informal and personal terms why they are at DARPA and what they are up to. The goal of "Voices from DARPA" is to share with listeners some of the institutional know-how, vision, process, and history that together make the “secret sauce” DARPA has been adding to the Nation’s innovation ecosystem for nearly 60 years. On another level, we at DARPA just wanted to share the pleasure we all have every day—in the elevator, in the halls, in our meeting rooms—as we learn from each other and swap ideas and strive to change what’s possible.
Episode 74: Young Faculty Award
Established in 2006, the Young Faculty Award (YFA) (https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/for-universities/young-faculty-award) program aims to identify and engage rising academics in early-career research positions - particularly those without prior DARPA funding - and expose them to Department of Defense (DOD) needs and DARPA's mission to create and prevent technological surprise. The YFA program provides high-impact funding toresearchers at U.S. institutions early in their careers to advance innovative research enabling transformative DOD capabilities. The long-term goal of the YFA program is to build a pipeline for the next generation of academic scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who will focus a significant portion of their career on DOD and national security issues.In this episode you'll hear from Dr. Rohith Chandrasekar (https://www.darpa.mil/staff/dr-rohith-chandrasekar), who oversees DARPA's YFA program, as well as from DARPA Program Managers Dr. Chris Bettinger (https://www.darpa.mil/staff/dr-christopher-bettinger) and Dr. Sunil Bhave (https://www.darpa.mil/staff/dr-sunil-bhave), who reflect on their experience as YFA awardees early in their academic careers and the opportunities it has afforded them.DARPA recently published the 2024 YFA Research Announcement that features almost two dozen new technical topics and an additional open topic covering six thrust areas specific to DARPA's Defense Sciences Office (DSO). To view the full 2024 YFA Research Announcement visit SAM.gov: https://sam.gov/opp/f2bf469a50e7433fa758f0125831754b/view (https://sam.gov/opp/f2bf469a50e7433fa758f0125831754b/view) or Grants.gov: https://www.grants.gov/search-results-detail/350899 (https://www.grants.gov/search-results-detail/350899). Executive summaries, which are encouraged, are due by Dec. 13, 2023, 4:00 p.m. ET. Full proposals are due Feb. 22, 2024, 4 p.m. ET.
Episode 73: The AI Cyber Challenge - CTF, Code, and Critical Infrastructure
Ahead of the AI Cyber Challenge (AIxCC) (https://aicyberchallenge.com/) Open Track registration period, which begins later this year, this episode of Voices from DARPA features Perri Adams, DARPA’s program manager for the competition. Over the next two years, AIxCC will challenge teams to develop AI-driven systems to automatically find and correctly fix the critical code that underpins daily life. Adams shares the backstory for the AIxCC, discusses who she wants to compete (and why), and what’s at stake for cybersecurity. Adams is joined by AIxCC collaborators from the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), a project of the Linux Foundation, and OpenAI. OpenSSF’s general manager Omkhar Arasratnam and OpenAI’s head of security Matt Knight discuss their roles in the challenge and impart advice to potential competitors. For information on how to register to compete in the AI Cyber Challenge, visit AICyberChallenge.com.
Episode 72: Reinventing Microelectronics Manufacturing
Supply chain disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, among other issues, shined a bright light on the global reliance on microchips. The nationwide recognition underscored the need to strengthen the domestic microelectronics industry, including on-shore fabrication and next-generation research, development, and capabilities.Back in 2017, already recognizing that the microelectronics demand trajectory was straining both commercial and defense developments, DARPA launched the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to address an increasing reliance on advanced electronics, exploding complexity of microsystems, offshore movement of advanced capabilities, and the emergence of hardware security threats. In 2022, the agency kicked off ERI 2.0, expanding the original effort to include reinvention of domestic microelectronics manufacturing.DARPA’s 2023 ERI Summit, held Aug. 22-24, in Seattle, brought together more than 1,300 participants converged to discuss the challenges on the horizon. The conference spanned three jam-packed days of presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and networking.In this episode of Voices from DARPA, we've pulled from the more than 10 hours of presentations from leading voices across government, industry, and academia for a primer on the Summit's prevailing theme: what it means to redefine the future of microelectronics manufacturing.For a deeper dive on ERI 2.0 and the ERI Summit, visit:ERI Summit playlist (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYvaychdWCfbmaGSqQ7YqQE4d) – DARPAtv on YouTubeDARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/offices/mto)Electronics Resurgence Initiative 2.0 (https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/electronics-resurgence-initiative)ERI Summit (https://eri-summit.darpa.mil/)
Episode 71: The Quantum Mechanic
In popular culture, quantum is a descriptive term often added to various technical topics and projects to make them sound cool. But what is quantum mechanics, really, and how do we know whether quantum technologies will transform computing, communications, sensing, and a host of other fields? To find answers, join us for a new episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast series, where we hear from Dr. Joe Altepeter, a quantum physicist in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. Altepeter helps clarify what for most of us is a complicated subject, providing a basic understanding of quantum and describing his two DARPA programs focused on quantum computing. The first program, called Quantum Benchmarking, aims to estimate the long-term utility of quantum computers by creating new benchmarks, or yardsticks, that quantitatively measure how useful a quantum computer would be at solving problems we care about. The second related program, Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC), seeks to determine if an underexplored approach to quantum computing is capable of achieving utility-scale operation (i.e., its computational value exceeds its cost) much faster than conventional predictions.Buckle up and tune in for a fast-paced tutorial from DARPA’s quantum mechanic!· Dr. Joe Altepeter (https://www.darpa.mil/staff/dr-joe-altepeter)· Quantum Benchmarking (https://www.darpa.mil/program/quantum-benchmarking)· Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) (https://www.darpa.mil/program/underexplored-systems-for-utility-scale-quantum-computing)
Episode 70: Innovating How We Innovate
There are many ideas in the world, but truly good ones are few and far between – especially when it comes to breakthrough technologies that can change the course of history. Surfacing these types of ideas calls for a constant infusion of fresh perspectives and imagination.That’s why DARPA created the DARPA Innovation Fellowship (https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/darpa-innovation-fellowship), a two-year position for early career scientists and engineers. Fellows push the limits of existing technology by exploring new ideas for answering high-risk, high-reward “what if?” questions in the realm of national security.In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast series, we hear from Dr. Jinendra Ranka, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/offices/dso) (DSO) – which oversees the Innovation Fellowship Program – about how the program offers unique opportunities for Fellows to make connections, demonstrate what’s possible and take risks. We also speak with four Fellows from the program’s first cohort – Dr. Rebecca Chmiel, Lieutenant Krishnan (Krish) Rajagopalan, Dr. Allegra A. Beal Cohen and Dr. Alex Place – for their perspectives on what it takes to develop high-impact, exploratory technology efforts for the Department of Defense.Current DARPA Innovation Fellows (https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/darpa-innovation-fellows)Advanced Research Concepts (https://www.darpa.mil/ARC)
Episode 69: Demystifying Deepfakes
Generative artificial intelligence has captured the world’s attention after recent advances in the commercial sector. Its ability to create deepfakes, or highly realistic multimedia, has turned a once highly specialized skill into something as easy as clicking a button. As a result, the threat of manipulated media –audio, images, video, and text – has increased while social media provides a ripe environment for viral content sharing. Though, not all media manipulations have the same real-world impact. In this episode of Voices from DARPA, Dr. Wil Corvey, program manager for DARPA’s Semantic Forensics (https://www.darpa.mil/program/semantic-forensics) (SemaFor), discusses how the program goes beyond detection to delve deeper into understanding the intent behind manipulated media and how their team is creating tools available for today’s analysts. They are joined by SemaFor researchers Arslan Basharat, assistant director of Computer Vision at Kitware Inc. and Luisa Verdoliva, professor at the University of Naples in Italy.