IARPA Releases Its Shopping List For Spy Technology

Artificial intelligence and superhumans, no big deal

IARPA is looking to fund research on artificial intelligence and other spy tech.
IARPA is looking to fund research on artificial intelligence and other spy tech.Dave Gershgorn

If you want to talk about high risk, high reward projects, look no further than the list recently released by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or more readily referred to as the DARPA for spies. IARPA prides itself on looking for far-reaching, risky projects that have the potential to change the intelligence landscape. They love brains, computers, and pretty much anything that makes the general population uncomfortable.

The agency looks at a broad range of research, like ways to predict potential threats to national security and secure methods of communication, but the ones that are most ambitious have to do with artificial intelligence and the brain. Specifically, IARPA wants "Brain-inspired algorithms and architectures for artificial intelligence and machine learning." This kind of technology is already being explored by DARPA, who is funding IBM's Synapse project. They're also looking for an "autonomous agent, machine learning and/or physiological intelligence methods to gather latent or suppressed knowledge," which sounds a lot like an A.I. interrogator.

Here's a (condensed) list of some other things IARPA is looking for:

Brain computer interfaces to enhance cognitive processing or increase bandwidth of human-machine interactions Computational social policy Reliable, real-time feedback methods for assessing human judgment and reasoning Methods for assessing capability and intent to develop weapons of mass destruction Methods for assessing capability and intent to leverage cyber capabilities against U.S. critical infrastructure Forensics on multimedia and/or social network data New algorithms and techniques that take advantage of quantum entanglement to perform tasks (excluding quantum annealing) that are inefficient or impossible with classical algorithms and/or current platforms Robotized research methods Tools to identify and mask signal streams and records that contain personal information to avoid unauthorized collection and dissemination

Now just because IARPA asks for these kinds of projects doesn't mean they're actually going to happen. It's more of a wish list than anything else, but gives insight into the kinds of technology the agency would like to employ.