Securing The Internet: A Historical Perspective

Brief_internet_history

This week, I had the opportunity take a great class in Cyber Security / Information Assurance.

As part of the class, we had to do a team project and my part was to present a brief history of the Internet and how this best positions the Federal Government to take the lead in securing the Internet.

Here is my part of the presentation:

Good morning. I am Andy Blumenthal, and I am here to talk with you today about the wealth of historical experience that the U.S. Federal Government has with managing the Internet and why we are best positioned to govern the security of it in partnership with the private sector and international community.

As you’ll see on the timeline, the U.S. Government has played a major role in virtually every development with the Internet from inventing it, to building it, and to governing it, and it is therefore, best prepared to lead in securing it.

It all started with the invention of the Internet by the government.

Starting in 1957 with the Sputnik Crisis, where the Soviets leaped ahead of us in putting the first satellite in Earth’s orbit—this caused great fear in this country and ultimately led to a space and technology race between us and the Soviet Union.

As a result of this, in 1958, the U.S. Government established the Advanced Research Projects Agency (or ARPA) to advance our technology superiority and prevent any future technology surprises.

In 1962, ARPA created the Information Process Techniques Office (IPTO) for enhancing telecommunications for sharing ideas and computing resources.

Finally in 1964, the concept of the Internet was founded with the publication by RAND (on contract with the Air Force) of “On Distributed Communications,” which essentially invented the idea of a distributed computing network (i.e. the Internet) with packet switching and no single point of failure.  This was seen as critical in order to strengthen the U.S. telecomm infrastructure for survivability in the event of nuclear attack by the Soviets.

The Internet era was born!

The U.S. government then set out to build this great Internet.

In 1968, ARPA contracted for first 4 nodes of this network (for $563,000).

Then in 1982, after 8 years of anti-trust litigation, the U.S. government oversaw the breakup of AT&T into the Baby Bells in order to ensure competition, value, and innovation for the consumer.

In 1983, ARPANET split off MILNET, but continued to be linked to it through TCP/IP.

In 1987, the National Science Foundation (NSF) built a T1 “Internet Backbone” for NSFNET hooking up the nation’s five supercomputers for high-speed and high capacity transmission.

And in 1991, the National Research and Education Network (NREN, a specialized ISP) was funded for a five-year contract with $2 billion by Congress to upgrade the Internet backbone.

At this point, the Internet was well on its way!

But the U.S. government’s involvement did not end there, after inventing it and building it, we went on to effectively govern it.

In 2005, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued the Internet Policy Statement (related to Net Neutrality) with principles to govern an open Internet—where consumers are entitled to choice of content, apps, devices, and service providers.

And now, most recently, in 2012, we have a proposed bill for the Cybersecurity Act to ensure that companies share cyber security information through government exchanges and that they meet critical infrastructure protection standards.

You see, the government understands the Internet, it’s architecture, it’s vulnerabilities, and has a long history with the Internet from its invention, to its building, and its governance.

It only makes sense for the government to take the lead in the security of the Internet and to balance this effectively with the principles for an open Internet.

Only the government can ensure that the private sector and our international partners have the incentives and disincentives to do what needs to be done to secure the Internet and thereby our critical infrastructure protection.

Thank you for your undivided attention, and now I will now turn it over to my colleague who will talk to you about the legal precedents for this.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Which Big Brother

Brother_in_arms

About a decade ago, after the events of 9/11, there was a program called Total Information Awareness (TIA) run out the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The intent was develop and use technology to capture data (lots of it), decipher it, link it, mine it, and present and use it effectively to protect us from terrorists and other national security threats.

Due to concerns about privacy–i.e. people’s fear of “Big Brother”–the program was officially moth-balled, but the projects went forward under other names.

This month Wired(April 2012) reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has almost achieved the TIA dream–“a massive surveillance center” capable of analyzing yottabytes (10 to the 24th bytes) of data that is being completed in the Utah desert.

According to the article, the new $2 billion Utah Data (Spy) Center is being built by 10,000 construction workers and is expected to be operational in a little over a year (September 2013), and will capture phone calls, emails, and web posts and process them by a “supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes.”

While DOD is most interested in “deepnet”–“data beyond the reach of the public” such as password protected data, governmental communications, and other “high value” information, the article goes on to describe “electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities” to collect information at the switch level, monitor phone calls, and conduct deep packet inspection of Internet traffic using systems (like Narus).

Despite accusations of massive domestic surveillance at this center, Fox News(28 March 2012) this week reported that those allegations have been dismissed by NSA. The NSA Director himself, General Keith Alexander provided such assurances at congressional hearings the prior week that the center was not for domestic surveillance purposes, but rather “to protect the nation’s cyber security,” a topic that he is deeply passionate about.

Certainly new technologies (especially potentially invasive ones) can be scary from the perspective of civil liberties and privacy concerns.

However, with the terrorists agenda very clear, there is no alternative, but to use all legitimate innovation and technology to our advantage when it comes to national security–to understand our enemies, their networks, their methods, their plans, to stop them, and take them down before they do us harm.

While, it is true that the same technologies that can be used against our enemies, can also be turned against us, we must through protective laws and ample layers of oversight ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Adequate checks and balances in government are essential to ensure that “bad apples” don’t take root and potentially abuse the system, even if that is the exception and not the rule.

There is a difference between the big brother who is there to defend his siblings from the schoolyard bully or pulls his wounded brother in arms off the battlefield, and the one who takes advantage of them.

Not every big brother is the Big Brother from George Orwell’s “1984” totalitarian state, but if someone is abusing the system, we need to hold them accountable.

Protecting national security and civil liberties is a dual responsibility that we cannot wish away, but which we must deal with with common sense and vigilance.

(Source Photo: here)

Taking Down The Internet–Not A Pipe Dream Anymore

Internet

We have been taught that the Internet, developed by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was designed to survive as a communications mechanism even in nuclear war–that was its purpose.

 

Last year, I learned about studies at the University of Minnesota that demonstrated how an attack with just 250,000 botnets could shut down the Internet in only20 minutes.

 

Again last month, New Scientist (11 February 2012) reported: “a new cyberweapon could take down the entireInternet–and there is not much that current defences can do to stop it.”

 

Imagine what your life would be like without Internet connectivity for a day, a week, or how about months to reconstitute!

 

This attack is called ZMW (after its three creators Zhang, Mao, and Wang) and involves disrupting routers by breaking and reforming links, which would cause them to send out border gateway protocol (BGP) updates to reroute Internet traffic.  After 20 minutes, the extreme load brings the routing capabilities of the Internet down–” the Internet would be so full of holes that communication would become impossible.”

 

Moreover, an attacking nation could preserve their internal network, by proverbially pulling up their “digital drawbridge” and disconnecting from the Internet, so while everyone else is taken down, they as a nation continue unharmed.

 

While The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which encourages companies and government to share information (i.e. cybersecurity exchanges) and requires that critical infrastructure meet standards set by The Department of Homeland Security and industry are steps in the right direction, I would like to see the new bills go even further with a significant infusion of new resources to securing the Internet.

 

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek (12-18 March 2012) states that organizations “would need to increase their cybersecurity almost ninetimes over…to achieve security that could repel [even] 95% of attacks.”

 

Aside from pure money to invest in new cybersecurity tools and infrastructure, we need to invest in a new cyberwarrior with competitions, scholarships, and schools dedicated to advancing our people capabilities to be the best in the world to fight the cyber fight. We have special schools with highly selective and competitive requirements to become special forces like the Navy SEALS or to work on Wall Street trading securities and doing IPOs–we need the equivalent or better–for the cyberwarrior.

 

Time is of the essence to get these cyber capabilities to where they should be, must be–and we need to act now.

 

(Source Photo of partial Internet in 2005: here, with attribution to Dodek)

 

Swarming For Social Order and Disorder

Swarm

A swarm is a large number of organisms generally in motion.  According to Swarm Theory, the collective exhibits superior intelligence or abilities beyond that of any individual.

Swarms are powerful forces that we see in our society today in everything from the worldwide riots of 2011 to crowdsourcing on the Internet–to put it simply as they say, “there is power in numbers.”

And swarms and their immense power dates back to the Bible, where the 8th plague sent on Egypt in Deuteronomy 10:14-15 was the plague of locusts:

“And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt…for they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees…”

This past year, we saw the power of swarms in the riots around the globe–from Tahir Square to Occupy Wall Street. In the case of Egypt, Mubarak was deposed after ruling for 30 years and in the case of Wall Street, the Occupy movement sparked protests around the globe lasting for many months.

Similarly, swarms are being put to the test in multiple military applications from the Army’s Future Combat System (since renamed) that envision brigades of manned and unmanned combat vehicles linked via an ultra-fast network creating a highly coordinated and maneuverable fighting force to DARPA’s iRobotSwarm Project creating a mesh network of mobile robots with sensors that can coordinate and perform surveillance and reconnaissance gaining dominance over the battlefield.

The power of the swarm is not just a physical phenomenon, but also a virtual one where crowdsourcing is used online to do everything from building incredible sources of knowledge like Wikipedia to soliciting citizens ideas for solving national problems such as on Challenge.gov.

Traditionally, the power behind the swarm (in nature whether bees, ants, or locusts) was the collective behavior of so many to attack an enemy, build a colony, or ravage the landscape. Today however, the swarm is powerful because of its collective intelligence–whether in pooling information, vetting ideas, or just coordinating activities with such sophistication that the group can outwit and outmaneuver its opponents.

Wired Magazine  has an article for the new year (January 2012) called “Crowd Control” in which the riots of 2011 are viewed as  both “dangerous and magnificent”–they represent a disconnected group getting connected, a mega-underground casting off its invisibility to embody itself, formidably, in physical space.”

“Today’s protest, revolts, and riots are self-organizing [and] hyper-networked”–and just like a swarm, individuals deindividuate and base their ideas and actions on the shared identify of the group and therein, a social psychology takes hold and with basic communication and social technology today, they can spontaneously form potent flash mobs, “flash robs,” or worse.

The age old phenomenon of swarming behavior is intersecting with the 21st century technology such as smartphones and social media to create the ability of individuals to gather, act decisively, disperse into the crowds, and then reconvene elsewhere to act again.

The power of this modern swarm is no longer about “sheer numbers,” but about being interconnected through messaging, tweets, videos,and more.

Many today are finding the power of the swarm with both friends and foes.  Friends are using swarming to try to accomplish new social and scientific feats.  While foes such as Al Qaeda are utilizing swarming for hit and run terrorism–moving agilely between safe havens and targeting their victims with tools of terror such as IEDs, car bombs, and other flash attacks.

Swarming is not just a behavior found in the animal kingdom any longer, today it is a fundamental source for both social order and disorder.

Swarming is now a strategy and a tactic–we need to wise up and gain the edge with social swarming behavior and technology to “outwit, outlast, and outplay” those who want to threaten society, and instead use it to improve and secure it.

(Source Photo: here)

Espionage, Social Media Style

Espionage

You are being watched!

Good guys and bad guys are tracking your movements, rants and raves, photos, and more online.

For example, The Atlantic reported on 4 November 2011 in an article titled How the CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel that “analysts are tracking millions of tweets, blog posts, and Facebook updates around the world.”

Further, in January 2009, “DHS established a Social Networking Monitoring Center (SNMC) to monitor social networking sites for ‘items of interest.'”

And even more recently in August 2011, DARPA invited proposals for “memetracking” to identify themes and sentiments online and potentially use this for predictive analysis.

The thinking is that if you can use online information to predict stock market movements as some have attempted, why not criminal and terrorist activity?

Similarly, The Guardian reported on 16 March 2010 “FBI using Facebook in fight against crime” and cautions that “criminals dumb enough to brag about their exploits on social networking sites have now been warned: the next Facebook ‘friend’ who contacts you may be an FBI agent.”

This is reminescent of the work of private sector,Dateline NBC in using Internet chat rooms to catch sexual predators online by luring them to a house where the predators believed they were going to meet up with a underage girl for a tryst.

While these efforts are notable and even praiseworthy by the good guys–assuming you can get over the privacy implications in favor of the potential to have a safer society to live in–these activities should be carefully safeguarded, so as not to infringe on the rights and freedoms of those who behave legally and ethically.

But the good guys are not the only ones using the tools of the trade for monitoring and analyzing social networking activities–the bad guys too recognize the implicit information treasure trove available and have you in their crosshairs.

For example, in the last years Arab Spring, we have nation states tracking their citizens political activities and using their power over the Internet to shut off access and otherwise surpress democracy and human rights. Further, we have seen their use for cyberspyingand testing offensive cyber attack capabilities–only the most recent of which was the alleged infiltration of a SCADA system for a Illinois water plant.

Moreover, this past week, Forbes (21 November 2011) reported in The Spy Who Liked Me that “your social network friends might not be all that friendly.”

From corporate espionage to market intelligence, there are those online who “steadfastly follows competitors’ executives and employees on Twitter and LinkedIn.”

In fact, the notion of online monitoring is so strong now that the article openly states that “if you’re not monitoring your competitors activity on social media, you may be missing out on delicious tidbits” and warns that “it’s easy to forget that some may not have your best intersts at heart.

Additionally, while you may not think your posts online give that much away, when your information is aggregated with other peoples posts as well as public information, it’s possible to put together a pretty good sketch of what organizations and individuals are doing.

Forbes lists the following sites as examples of the “Web Spy Manual” with lots of information to pull from: Slideshare, Glassdoor.com, Quora, iSpionage, Youtube as well as job postings and customer support forums.

When you are on your computer in what you believe to be the privacy of your own home, office, or wherever,do not be deceived, when you are logged on, you are basically as open book for all the world to see–good guys and bad guys alike.

(Source Photo: here)

Dilbert Shows The Way to User-Centric Government

Scott_adams_-_dilbert

Scott Adams the talent behind Dilbert comics and numerous books wrote a fascinating column in the Wall Street Journal (5-6 Oct. 2011) called “What if Government Were More Like an iPod.”

Adams has some great ideas and here’s a few:

1) Leverage Group Intelligence–“group intelligence is more important than individual genius…thanks to the Internet we can summon the collective intelligence of millions.” While certainly in government, we are using social media and crowd sourcing to leverage group intelligence by making information available to the public (e.g. Data.gov), engaging the public in innovating new applications (e.g. Apps for Democracy), getting feedback and comments on regulations (e.g. Regulations.gov), soliciting policy ideas and petitions from citizens (e.g. We The People) and more, this is only a start. We can continue to advance engagement with people on everyday issues to come up with solutions for our biggest and toughest challenges. One example for doing this is utilizing more tools like Quora to put out questions to subject matter experts, from every spectrum of our great nation, to come up with the best solutions, rather than just rely on the few, the loud, or the connected.
2) Voting With Understanding–“Voting [the way we currently do] is such a crude tool that half of the time, you can’t tell if you’re voting against your own interests. Change can take years…and elected officials routinely ignore their own campaign promises.” Adams proposes a website to see the “best arguments for and against every issue, with links to support or refute every factual claim. And imagine the professional arbiters would score each argument.” I can empathize with what Adams is saying. Think of the healthcare act in 2010 that was over 2,500 pages or the 72,000 page tax code–there is a reason people are overwhelmed, confused, and calling for plain language in government communications such as the Plain Language Act. There is obviously more to be done here using user-centric communications and citizen engagement, so that the average citizen with bills to pay and a family to care for, can still participate, contribute, and vote with understanding unmarred by gobbledygook, “the weight test”, and politicking.
3) Campaigning More Virtually–Make it “easy for voters to see video clips, interviews, debates, and useful comparisons of the candidates positions. In the modern era, it does’t make sense for a candidate to trek all over the country on a bus.” Too much of the political process is the shaking hands and kissing babies–the showmanship of who looks better and talks more sleekly versus focusing on the policy issues. While it is important to present favorably, lead and influence and bring people together, it is also critical to get the policy issues out there clearly and without flip-flopping (which should be reserved for burgers only). The media plays a role in keeping the political candidates on their toes and honest, but the process itself should vet the issues in written commitments by candidates and not reversible sound bites on TV.
4) Quicken The Innovation Cycle–“I’m fairly certain Ben Franklin wouldn’t be impressed by our pace of innovation. He invented the post office and showed us electricity and it still took us nearly 200 years to come up with email. We’re not good at connecting the dots.” This is an interesting point, but it sort of misses the mark. There are lots of good–even great–ideas out there, but from my perspective on organizations, execution is usually the stumbling block. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Patent Office has a backlog of over 700,000 patent applications as of October 2010, so new ideas are plentiful, but how we work those ideas and make them come to fruition is a project management and human capital challenge. While email seems like just a dot or few dots away from the post office and electricity, there is obviously a lot of groundwork that needs to be laid to send an email from DC to Jerusalem in split seconds.
In short, Adams summarizes his convictions for government change in advocating a form of User-Centric Government (my term)Adams actually proposes a 4th branch of government (I think he really mean a new agency) to manage “user-interface” or what I understand him to mean as citizen engagement. Adams describes this new agency as “smallish and economical, operating independently, with a mission to build and maintain friendly user-interface for citizens to manage their government.” Adams would advance the achievement of his ideas and hopes for leveraging group intelligence, voting with understanding, campaigning virtually, and quickening innovation. I believe Adams idea builds on the concept of a Federal agency for innovation that has been proposed previously over the years by The Industry Advisory Council and others to be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
While there are arguments for and against creating another government agency for driving user-centric government, creating more and better user engagement through understanding and participation is fundamental and aligns with our core principles of democracy and as a global competitive advantage.
While Government is not Apple, learning from some of the best and brightest like Steve Jobs on how to reach people intuitively and deeply is a great way to go!
(Source Photo: here)

Robots Are Not Just For Fighting

“The AlphaDog Proto is a lab prototype for the Legged Squad Support System [LS3], a robot being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. When fully developed the system will carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. The first version of the complete robot will be completed in 2012.”
According to Boston Dynamics, AlphaDog will follow a leader with computer vision or travel via GPS to designated locations. 
The video shows a truly amazing display of the robot galloping, traversing obstacles, recovering from being pushed, and even rolling over and getting up from a supine position. 
 AlphaDog is designed as a true workhorse and resembles something more out of a Mad Max movie than what you would think of as supporting our next generation war fighters. Note: I’ll take a flying hovercraft with pinpoint fire laser ray beams over a 4-legged robot workhorse any day!  🙂
But with the array of sensors and weapons supported by drones flying overhead and robotics sentries on the ground, and 4-legged robots ferrying supplies to the front lines, the battlefield is quickly changing to man and machine fighting side by side, and maybe one day machines fighting in lieu of people. 
While MIT Technology Review states “This is just what soldiers need,” I’m interested in seeing future applications of these robots not just for the military, but also in terms of how they will change areas such as law enforcement, fire and rescue, construction, assembly-line production, transportation, medicine, service industries, and more.  
Robots are not just for fighting, although it looks like AlphaDog could give anyone a good kick in the teeth and keep on lugging its load. 

>This Idea Has Real Legs

>

Check out this video of Rex, The Robotic Exoskeleton.

An incredible advance for the disabled in providing better mobility.

Light years ahead of a wheelchair, Rex enables people to stand, walk, climb stairs, and generally lead more normal and healthy lives.

Rex is not meant to supplant the wheelchair (where you can sit), but to augment meant it (with the ability to stand).

“If you are a wheelchair user, can self transfer and use a joystick with your hand, Rex amy offer you a way to stand, move sideways, turn around, go up steps as well as walk on flat hard surfaces including ramps and slopes.” (www.rexbionics.com)

The idea for REX came from the movie Aliens, where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, the main character) fights the big mother Alien in a “Power Loader” suit. The exoskeleton designed for transporting and stacking large supply crates is used to do some serious damage to the Alien.

Exoskeletons have been explored as battle suits in movies, video games (Halo), and even in the real military as future combat wear.

Nice to see an application of the technology that can kill/maim to also heal/help people. Of course this isn’t the first time military technology has been applied to the consumer market; for example, the Internet itself on which I am writing this blog, was developed by DARPA.

The point is that technology itself is not good or bad, but rather how we use it, is what determines it’s ultimate effect.

According to CNN, Rex invested $10 million and seven years in developing this bionic dream machine made from 4700 parts. FDA approval is being sought, so Rex can be marketed it in the U.S.

It’s not hard to imagine exoskeleton technology being used not only for helping the disabled and fighting future wars, but also for augmenting the everyday workforce as body bionics to work the fields, build our infrastructure, transport goods, and even for us intellectual types, to run between (or out of those) meetings that much faster.

>Happy Birthday Internet

>

On September 2, 2009, the Internet celebrated its fortieth birthday.

ComputerWorld (14 Sept. 2009) reports that 40 years ago “computer scientists created the first network connection, a link between two computers at the University of California, Los Angeles.” This was the culmination of research funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the 1960s.

This information technology milestone was followed by another, less than two months later, on October 29 1969, when Leonard Kleinrock “sent a message from UCLA to a node at the Sanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, California.”

While the Internet conceptually become a reality four decades ago, it didn’t really go mainstream until almost the 1990’s—with the founding of the World Wide Web project in 1989, AOL for DOS in 1991, and the Mosaic browser in 1993.

Now, I can barely remember what life was like before the Internet. Like the black and white pictures of yester-year: life was simple and composed, but also sort of lifeless, more boring indeed, and less colorful for sure. In other words, I wouldn’t want to go back.

Also, before the Internet, the world was a lot smaller. Even with connections to others far away—by phone and by plane—people’s day-to-day connections were more limited to those in close proximity—on their block, down on Main Street, or in and around town. It took an extra effort to communicate, share, deal, and interchange with people beyond the immediate area.

At present with the Internet, every email, chat, information share, e-commerce transaction, social media exchange, and application are a blast across the reaches of cyberspace. And like the vastness of the outer space beyond planet Earth, cyber space represents seemingly endless connectivity to others over the Internet.

What will the Next Generation Internet (NGI) bring us?

ComputerWorld suggests the following—many of which are already with us today:

  • Improved mobility—like “showing you things about where you are” (for example, where’s the nearest restaurant, restroom, or service station or even where are your friends and family members).
  • Greater information access—“point your mobile phone at a billboard, and you’ll see more information” about a particular advertisement.
  • Better e-commerce—“use the Internet to immediately pay for goods.”
  • Enhanced visualization—Internet will “take on a much more three-dimensional look.”

I believe the future Internet is going to be like Second Life on steroids with a virtual environment that is completely immersive—interactive with all five senses and like speaking with Hal the computer, answering your every question and responding to your every need.

It’s going to be great and I’m looking forward to saying “Happy Birthday Internet” for many more decades, assuming we don’t all blow ourselves out of the sky first.

>DARPA and Enterprise Architecture

>

As a discipline enterprise architecture strives to move the organization into the future—that is what EA planning and IT governance is all about—and that is also what an organization like DARPA is about.

“The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies which have had a major impact on the world, including computer networking [the Internet]DARPA’s original mission, established in 1958, was to prevent technological surprise like the launch of Sputnik, which signaled that the Soviets had beaten the U.S. into space. The mission statement has evolved over time. Today, DARPA’s mission is still to prevent technological surprise to the US, but also to create technological surprise for our enemies. DARPA is independent from other more conventional military R&D and reports directly to senior Department of Defense management. DARPA has around 240 personnel (about 140 technical) directly managing a $3.2 billion budget.” (Wikipedia)

National Defense Magazine, November 2007, states that DARPA “has a reputation for taking on challenges that sometimes seem to defy the laws of physics—or at least common sense.”

“’DARPA Hard’ refer to problems its researchers attempt to solve…’Please tell us that it’s something that can’t be done. It’s science fiction. That is a challenge we can’t resist,’” says Brett Giroir, director of the defense sciences office.

Here are some interesting target architectures that DARPA has set out to tackle:

  • Transparent walls—“DARPA wants to defeat rock, concrete and plaster walls—not by blowing them up—but rather by making them transparent. The agency is creating a suite of sensors to map the inside of buildings, tunnels, caves, and underground facilities.” The Visi-building project ,for example, uses radar to detect the inside of buildings, and then DARPA is exploring how to penetrate and destroy without resorting to nukes.
  • Inner Armor—“the objective is to fortify the entire soldier against attack from the enemy of the environment.” This includes environmental hardening to “protect soldiers from extreme heat, cold, and high altitudes,” and kill proofing “to protect soldiers from chemical and radiological threats,” as well as safeguarding them from deadly diseases. It’s a comprehensive protection package. DARPA for example envision “universal immune cells that are capable of making anti-bodies that neutralize…hundreds of threat agents.”
  • Chemical mapping—“there are about 80,000 commercially available chemicals, and many of them are toxic, DARPA wants to create a map showing where and if they appear in a given area.” This would show forces where chemical labs or weapons caches are. One idea is to use “replace sensors with nano-technology-based samplers that extract chemicals…[and that have ] a GPS device attached [that] could be placed on helicopters, military vehicles, or secretly placed on delivery trucks making rounds through a city”

These are great! You have got to love the “know no bounds” attitude of DARPA. They are truly innovators, and are a model for the rest of government and industry in defining problems and actually solving them.

In enterprise architecture, it is one thing to set targets that are incremental, non-monumental, and the same as everyone else is doing (like moving to Microsoft Vista). But it is an altogether different thing to set targets that are groundbreaking in terms of business process engineering and technology innovation.

While not all our targets can be revolutionary, perhaps a subset of them should be to keep us really innovating and not just copycatting the competition. We need to bring innovation back to the forefront of what we believe, how we think, what we do, and how we compete.