The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency
No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history about the organization, New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobs ...more
You may also know that the same agency invented GPS, the Global Positioning System. Chances are, though, that you don’t know that DARPA also invented drones both big and tiny, Agent Orange, the M16 Assault Rifle, sophisticated sensor technology, the F117A stealth fighter jet, MIRV ...more
I recommend the book over an audiobook unless you have a g ...more
I've always said that I'm more afraid of what the government doesn't tell us than what they do. This book just reiterates that. I found myself saying what are you kidding me many times while reading this. The crowd control ideas was one of those times. Lasers and drones are examined to an extent with some of that information being still classified so then of course the whole story can't be given. The polio vaccine problem I had never heard ...more
Admittedly though, it does speak about some projects in AI and bioengineering that are pretty darn disturbing to think about in a moral, ethical and humanitarian sense.
It's incredibly fascinating history and we'll only learn more about it as time goes on and more stuff gets declassified. ...more
But after calmly explaining at length how DARPA is perfectly capable of plowing billions into programs that never work, she goes full Kevin McCarthy in her last few chapters about out-of-control, self-determining, hunter-killer robots. Which don't exist! Yet!! But-- they COULD!!! ...more
Not one wo ...more
Suffers from some discontinuity, but I suppose that's to be expected when trying to tell the history of an ultra secret government organization. ...more
For me the pull quote is this:
Charles Townes said...that he was personally inspired to invent the laser after reading the Science Fiction novel The...more
Damn. It’s the usual ‘if this is what’s unclassified, they’re doing orders of magnitude worse.’ And we punish the whistleblowers instead of those involved.
That’s where the book fell short, though; it could have delved harder on the privacy and, y’know, war crimes stuff. But that’s a different book, I suppose.
Also I learned the Pentagon has an initiative where they consult with popular science fiction writers, so the last chapter was Jacobsen tagging along with Chris Carter (The X-Files) and Gal...more
'Pentagon's Brain' is a 2016 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. I found it to be an enjoyable read. The part that I enjoyed most about this book was the 'factoids'. It seemed like I was highlighting some interesting tidbit on every few pages. If anything, those are worth checking out (see below). DARPA has been the driving force behind some of the most revolutionary concepts in civilian life and the battlefield. There's no telling what they are working on presently...
So Annie Jacobsen is an investigative reporter who was allowed privy to some less secretive secrets. She wrote some other books that I have heard of but have not read yet.
The main crux of the book is questioning the moral center of DARPA I suppose. A lot of the main ideas of DARPA have been focused on waging war and ...more
Yet the most funny part is when Jacobson talks about when Chris Carter (developer and creator of the X-Files) and Gale Anne Hurd (creator and writer of the Terminator franchise) visited the Pentagon and the DARPA offices there. Of the government official who had the ...more
The Pentagon's Brain is not a scathing indictment of either the right's or the left's exploitation of the federal money machine to conduct grand military experiments in third world co ...more
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. DARPA is given seemingly unlimited resources for their projects, and for the most part, Congress can't do a darn thing. When they do try to step in and claim foul play, the upper echelons of the Pe ...more
DARPA is where many of the Pentagon’s most innovative, often crazy and ridiculous weapons technology R&D ideas have been cooked up.
No book about DARPA is going to tell us much about what they are currently working on -- most likely things like underwater robotics, Artificial Intelligence, cyber-warfare advance ...more
Overall a decent primer on the history and issues this fascinating government agency has had over the past 60+ years.
I very much appreciated the historical context of the Hydrogen Bomb development, ethical implications of technological advancements, and especially the brilliance of DARPA: DARPA funds QUESTIONS and not requirements. In order to stay at the forefront of technology for the US military and government, DARPA needs relative freedom to forecast the ...more
Jacobsen A (2015) (18:22) Pentagon's Brain, The - An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency
Part I: The Cold War
01. The Evil Thing
02. War Games and Computing Machines
03. Vast Weapons Systems of the Future
04. Emergency Plans
05. Sixteen Hundred Seconds Until Doomsday
06. Psychological Operations
Part II: The Vietnam War
07. Techniques and Gadgets
08. RAND and COIN
09. Command and Control
10. Motivation and Morale
I'm not a tinfoil-hat wearer, but I can believe a lot of what is being put forward in this book, and it's pretty eye-opening. This book covers so much ground that I had never even considered before. It's really a bit frightening to realize how many of the scientific advances in psychology and human ...more
She also writes and produces TV (Tom Clancy's JACK RYAN) and the forthcoming PHENOMENA (Amblin/Blumhouse), a dramatic series based on her book PHENOMENA.
A graduate of Princeton University ...more