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Fomenting (Rigorous) Technological Revolutions: Replication and DARPA’s Mission

Adam Russell Related
Foundations 23/01/2020

The mission of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is to invest in „breakthrough technologies and capabilities for national security.“ Founded in the wake of the Soviet Union’s largely unexpected launch of Sputnik in 1957, DARPA‘s mission has since often been summarized as creating technological surprise, in part to help avoid being surprised by others. Hence, DARPA explicitly reaches for transformational change instead of incremental advances. Given this background, the role of replication in DARPA’s mission might appear obvious, but replication’s impact on, and value for, high-risk, high-payoff research can vary significantly and is not always self-evident nor straightforward. In this talk, I will offer some observations on replication’s role in, and importance for, DARPA’s mission, based on my experience serving as a DARPA Program Manager in the Defense Sciences Office and as the “DARPAnthropologist.”