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What you need to know about DARPA, the Pentagon's mad science division

There's a certain entity within the Pentagon that's quite (in)famous for developing terrifying robots, advanced weapons and futuristic tech. It's called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or, as most people know it, DARPA: the Department of Defense's "mad science" division. While all the machines coming out of the agency make it seem like its sole purpose is to build a killer-robot army, DARPA has many, many other projects to speak of. In fact, DARPA's at the heart of some of the most significant technological advances of our time. Hell, there might not be an internet to read this article on if DARPA didn't create it. HOW DID IT BEGIN? President Dwight Eisenhower founded DARPA way back in 1958 in order to develop cutting-edge technologies for the United States. Originally known as ARPA (same meaning, but without "Defense"), it was created as a response to the Soviet Union's successful launch of Sputnik, which, according to DARPA itself, signaled that "a fundamental change was needed in America's defense science and technology programs." Since then, it's been involved in several technological milestones; for instance, it developed an early networking system that went live in 1969 called the ARPANET. It's one of the networks that eventually led to creation of the internet, which, suffice it to say, changed the world. Love Siri or Cortana? You can thank DARPA for those virtual assistants, too, as its Speech Understanding Research (SUR) program in the 1970s played a key role in advancing speech recognition technology widely in use today. HOW DOES IT OPERATE? Read more via EnGadget.

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