Critical Update: Inside DARPA's DARPA

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Valerie Browning, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, discusses self-aware machines, the future of quantum computing and preventing technology surprises.

Across the government, innovation can mean a lot of different things. While previous episodes of Critical Update focused on people using tech to streamline federal bureaucracy, this week we get to hear from someone pushing the boundaries of technology itself.

As the Pentagon’s research wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency works to maintain the country’s technological edge, and as director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, Valerie Browning manages some of the agency’s most forward-looking efforts.

The office, which Browning refers to as “DARPA’s DARPA,” oversees a sprawling portfolio of research projects aimed at laying the foundation for major technological breakthroughs in the decades ahead. The agency’s early work paved the way for the internet, GPS and self-driving cars, and today Browning and her team are constantly “looking over the horizon” for the tech that will shape tomorrow’s military and society at large.

Browning joined us to discuss the implications of machines that can think for themselves, when we should expect our first personal quantum computer and why more money doesn’t always mean more results when it comes to government research.

Hear what she has to say by listening to the full episode below. Or download and subscribe in the App Store or Google Play to take Critical Update with you on your favorite device.

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