Artifact Details


DARPA's Dan Kaufman in conversation with John Markoff of The New York Times

Catalog Number



Moving image




Hollar, John C., Introductory Speaker
Intel, Sponsor
Kaufman, Dan, Speaker
Markoff, John, Speaker


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, California





Copyright Holder

Computer History Museum


Imagine what the world would look like if we gave everyone the ability to solve its toughest problems, the freedom to explore the world, and the tools to build the future. These are ideas that have been driving Dan Kaufman and his research efforts at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He is convinced that if we build the tools and technology to empower everyone to participate, we would be amazed at the results.

Recently at DARPA there have been multiple efforts to research the mobilization and self-organization potential of social networks & crowd sourcing. Two interesting questions arise: can you use the power of the crowd to solve a specific problem, and can you find special people in the crowd to solve a problem who have never been asked before?

The power of the crowd has been explored through DARPA's Network Challenge (commonly referred to as the Red Balloon Challenge) in which 10 large red weather balloons were placed at undisclosed locations across the US for one day.

Finding people in the crowd who can contribute greatly has been explored through a recent DARPA sponsored experiment called the Shredder Challenge. In this test, the winning solution was not resolved by the "power of the crowd," but by finding, in the crowd, those special people who may have never been asked the question. Many thought the task impossible, but it turned out that they had been asking the wrong people.

An obstacle to fully empowering the crowd is the need for software programmers. DARPA has pushed to develop tools that allow ordinary people to solve complex problems. The program RealWorld gave tools to U.S. soldiers to allow them to create their own mission-specific simulations, without expertise in computer programming. Those tools have now been used to build aircraft, medical, and neurological simulators.

John Markoff has referred to DARPA as an "Agency of Wonder" – join us tonight to find out why.

This event is part of our 2012 lecture series celebrating Revolutionaries, featuring conversations with and about some of the most distinguished thinkers in the computing field. The Revolutionaries lecture series complements the launch of the Computer History Museum's permanent exhibition, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.

Watch this event on CHM's YouTube channel:



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