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  • Writer's picturekyle Hailey

DARPA and the AI Revolution: Unraveling the Secret Ties That Shape Our Future

As the US government grapples with the urgent need for advancements in AI, one might wonder whether it would focus on ramping up its internal research agencies like the NSA or collaborate with the world's leading AI research organizations. Notably, DeepMind, which is twice as big as OpenAI, appears to be less dominant in the field.

The US government conducts AI research through various channels, partnering with academic institutions, private companies, and research organizations. In top academic circles, it is common for professionals, even those with opposing views, to know and interact with each other.

A fascinating and well-documented example of this intricate relationship between the government and individuals it may oppose on paper can be found in the world of psychedelics. I am fascinated and passionate about the history of psychedelics and I find that story gives surprising insights into the way the government works boths sides of a situation and does some surprising ethically questionable actions. Figures like Timothy Leary, Sasha Shulgin, Rick Doblin, and Al Hubbard had government connections, either working openly for the government or collaborating behind closed doors.

Leary's government nemesis was G. Gordon Liddy, who later toured the university lecture circuit with Leary. William Leonard Pickard, who was said to have produced 90% of the world's LSD, was released from prison largely due to the work he did for the government on illegal drugs. Pickard brought the looming opioid crisis to the government's attention.

William Leonard Pickard is a former research associate in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, Harvard fellow in drug policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA. His 1996 prediction of the fentanyl epidemic was published by RAND in The Future of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids.

The hippie movement, which was fueled by LSD, owes its origin to the CIA's clandestine mind control study, MKULTRA. The program's experiments led to Ken Kesey's introduction to LSD and the subsequent explosion of counterculture in the US. Kesey broke into a lab, found out what LSD was, and ordered as much as he could from Sandoz Pharmaceutical in Switzerland. He then took his treasure to La Honda and famously partied with the Hells Angels, kicking off the Grateful Dead, the Merry Pranksters, and the infamous Acid Parties in San Francisco.

With AI rapidly transforming the world, the government's approach to harnessing this technology likely includes building relationships with key players in Silicon Valley. Although specific connections and collaborations might not be fully documented, it is crucial to recognize the importance of these partnerships in driving AI innovation.

The AI-generated responses sighted at the end of this blog, might contain inaccuracies, so it is essential to fact-check and verify the information before accepting it as accurate. Nevertheless, these data points and responses serve as an interesting starting point for understanding the complex relationship between the government, AI, and private research organizations, even when the parties involved may have conflicting interests on the surface.

In conclusion, the government's history of engaging with individuals and ideas it may ostensibly oppose demonstrates the intricate dynamics at play in these partnerships. The AI research landscape is likely no exception, as the government seeks to forge relationships and collaborate with influential players to drive innovation and remain at the forefront of this rapidly evolving field.

Discussion with ChatGPT 4 what is Darpa's connection to Google? DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. While DARPA is not directly connected to Google, there have been instances of collaboration and cross-pollination between the two entities. One notable example is the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, a robotics company that had received funding from DARPA, by Google (Alphabet) in 2013. Google later sold Boston Dynamics to SoftBank in 2017. Another connection is the participation of Google's parent company, Alphabet, in DARPA-funded projects, either through research partnerships or by providing technology. Furthermore, some individuals have worked for both DARPA and Google at different points in their careers. For example, Regina Dugan, who served as the director of DARPA from 2009 to 2012, later joined Google and eventually led the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group at Google. In summary, while DARPA and Google are not directly connected, they have collaborated on projects, shared personnel, and engaged in technology acquisitions, which has created a connection between the two entities.

does DARPA have any connection with Facebook, Anthropic or Openai or any other AI companies? DARPA, as a research agency of the United States Department of Defense, often collaborates with various technology companies and research organizations. While direct connections between DARPA and Facebook or other AI companies like Anthropic, or OpenAI may not be as prominent as the connection with Google, there can still be instances of collaboration, funding, or personnel moving between the organizations. For example, Facebook's artificial intelligence research lab, FAIR, might collaborate with DARPA or other government research organizations on specific projects or initiatives. Researchers from companies and institutions often attend conferences and workshops organized by DARPA, which can facilitate an exchange of ideas and create connections between DARPA and various AI companies. Additionally, some individuals who have worked for DARPA may later join AI companies or vice versa. For instance, researchers or engineers with experience in DARPA-funded projects could transition to AI companies like Facebook, Anthropic, OpenAI, or other organizations in the field, bringing their expertise and establishing indirect connections. It is essential to keep in mind that while direct connections between DARPA and these AI companies may not be as evident, the nature of research and development in the technology sector often leads to collaboration, funding opportunities, and personnel moving between organizations, creating connections in various ways.

what examples are there of AI company engineers either moving to Darpa or coming from Darpa? There are several examples of individuals who have either moved from AI companies to DARPA or from DARPA to AI companies. Some notable cases include:

  1. Regina Dugan: Regina Dugan served as the director of DARPA from 2009 to 2012. After leaving DARPA, she joined Google, where she led the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. Later, she moved to Facebook, where she headed the Building 8 research lab, which focused on hardware development and innovation.

  2. Yoky Matsuoka: Yoky Matsuoka, a robotics expert, co-founded Google X, the company's secretive research lab. After working at Google, she joined the executive team at Nest, a smart home company acquired by Google. Later, she served as the CEO of a neurotechnology-focused startup funded by DARPA called Quanttus, which aimed to develop wearable devices for monitoring health.

  3. Gilman Louie: Gilman Louie, the founder of the CIA-backed venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, which invests in technology companies to support the U.S. intelligence community, served on the board of OpenAI. He has experience working with various government agencies, including DARPA.

  4. Vijay Kumar: Vijay Kumar, a roboticist and former assistant director of robotics and cyber-physical systems at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has worked on several DARPA-funded projects. He later became the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where his research included robotics, AI, and machine learning.

These examples show that movement between DARPA and AI companies is not uncommon. Such connections facilitate the exchange of ideas, expertise, and technology between government research organizations and the private sector, which can drive innovation and progress in the field of AI.

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