JPL's RoboSimian at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in 2015. Photo Credit: J.Krohn, courtesy of JPL-Caltech.
JPL's RoboSimian at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in 2015. Photo Credit: J.Krohn, courtesy of JPL-Caltech.

Inside DARPA – Sci-Fi Meets National Defense

JPL's RoboSimian at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in 2015. Photo Credit: J.Krohn, courtesy of JPL-Caltech.

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About This Episode

Do you dream of working for a government agency that blends reality, science fiction, and national defense to create next-generation technology and ideas that eventually shape the way we operate as a society? Then DARPA might be the place for you. On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-host Chuck Nice, former head of DARPA Arati Prabhakar, and journalist and author Sharon Weinberger shed some light on the mysterious Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). You’ll hear about the history of DARPA: how the agency got started in 1958 during the Cold War, some of the first wild ideas that were researched, and what advancements it helped shepherd throughout history. Not all of those wild ideas were ours: you’ll find out how DARPA was called to investigate the time the US Embassy in Moscow was being attacked by microwaves. Explore DARPA’s role in the development of stealth technology, from the first functional stealth fighter jet to the B-2 bomber. You’ll learn about ARPANET, which included the very early underpinnings of the Internet that pervades our lives today. Discover more about the Boeing X-37 orbital spaceplane and our spy satellites, and why space remains a complicated domain. And if that’s not enough to blow your mind, roboticist Hod Lipson joins the crew to discuss the merger of artificial intelligence and national defense. You’ll learn about self-driving cars and how DARPA would embrace them. Chuck takes to the streets of NYC to ask citizens how they feel about the rise of self-driving cars. We also answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about the future of artificial intelligence. Lastly, we investigate the dark side of defense technology and how neuroscience could play a factor in the future of national defense. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Inside DARPA: Sci-Fi Meets National Defense.

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