CHM Revolutionaries: DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar in Conversation with John Markoff
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[Recorded: June 11, 2014] The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, when the political and defense communities recognized the need for a high-level defense organization to formulate and execute R&D projects that would expand the frontiers of technology and science far beyond immediate military requirements. DARPA is the Department of Defense's primary innovation engine with a remarkable track record of breakthroughs in its 56 years, from precision guidance and navigation, stealth, night vision, communications and networking. Much of its success is due to hiring remarkable program managers for a finite term, who create projects they decide can really change the world. DARPA makes pivotal early investments in these projects, building and leveraging broad technical communities to help create the capabilities. Dr. Arati Prabhakar first joined DARPA in 1986 as one of those program managers. After several years in public service she headed to Silicon Valley working largely in the commercial sector, before returning to DARPA's as its twentieth director. She is uniquely qualified for the role as she has spent her career investing in world-class engineers and scientists to create new technologies and businesses. Tonight she will join John Markoff for a conversation about her remarkable career, the Agency's history and impact, initiatives, and new breakthrough technologies like self-destructible computer chips. We'll also learn more about her vision for DARPA's future and ways to keep the engine of innovation running in the face of fiscal constraints and other threats.