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jerryking : darpa   9

Why moonshots elude the timid of heart
February 14, 2020 | Financial Times | by Tim Harford.

* Loonshots — by Safi Bahcall.
* Major innovations tend to result from investment that is high-risk, high-pay-off.
* Executives at the Cambridge, UK outpost of an admired Japanese company fret that success rate of their research and development, at 70%, was far too high. It signals that research teams had been risk-averse, pursuing easy wins at the expense of more radical and risky long-shots.
* Disney, the belief is that Disney if you weren't failing at half of your endeavours, you weren’t being brave or creative enough.
* The problem is a societal/systematic preference for marginal gains over long shots---It is much more pleasant to experience a steady trickle of small successes than a long drought while waiting for a flood that may never come.
* marginal gains do add up, but need to be bolstered by the occasional long-shot breakthrough.....Major innovations such as the electric motor, the photo­voltaic cell or the mobile phone open up new territories that the marginal-gains innovators & tinkerers can further exploit.[JCK: from Simon Johnson, "public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy."]
* the UK Conservative party’s promise to establish “a new agency for high-risk, high-pay-off research, at arm’s length from government” — a British version of the much-admired US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency.
* DARPA's failure rate is often said to be around 85%.
* a low failure rate may indeed signal a lack of originality and ambition.
* Arpa hires high-quality scientists for short stints — often two or three years — and giving them control over a programme budget to commission research from any source they wish.
* the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a foundation, deliberately looks for projects with an unusual or untried approach, but a large potential pay-off.....HHMI gets what it pays for — more failures, but larger successes, compared with other grant-makers funding researchers of a similar calibre.
* how long will UK politicians tolerate failure as a sign of boldness and originality? Eventually, they will simply call it failure.
* the trilemma: Be cautious, or fund lots of risky but tiny projects, or fund a few big, risky projects from a modest budget and accept that every single one may flop.
audacity  big_bets  boldness  books  breakthroughs  Cambridge  DARPA  failure  game_changers  high-reward  high-risk  incrementalism  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  marginal_improvements  moonshots  originality  politicians  public_investments  publicly_funded  quick_wins  R&D  risk-aversion  science  small_wins  spillover  success_rates  thinking_big  Tim_Harford  timidity  United_Kingdom 
7 days ago by jerryking
Pentagon Turns to High-Speed Traders to Fortify Markets Against Cyberattack
Oct. 15, 2017 7| WSJ | By Alexander Osipovich.

"What it would be like if a malicious actor wanted to cause havoc on U.S. financial markets?".....Dozens of high-speed traders and others from Wall Street are helping the Pentagon study how hackers could unleash chaos in the U.S. financial system. The Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA, over the past year and a half has consulted executives at high-frequency trading firms and quantitative hedge funds, and people from exchanges and other financial companies, participants in the discussions said. Officials described the effort, the Financial Markets Vulnerabilities Project, as an early-stage pilot project aimed at identifying market vulnerabilities.

Among the potential scenarios: Hackers could cripple a widely used payroll system; they could inject false information into stock-data feeds, sending trading algorithms out of whack; or they could flood the stock market with fake sell orders and trigger a market crash......Among potential targets that could appeal to hackers given their broad reach are credit-card companies, payment processors and payroll companies such as ADP, which handles the paychecks for one in six U.S. workers, participants said.....The goal of Darpa’s project is to develop a simulation of U.S. markets, which could be used to test scenarios, Such software would need to model complex, interrelated markets—not just stocks but also markets such as futures—as well as the behavior of automated trading systems operating within them....Many quantitative trading firms already do something similar.......
In 2009, military experts took part in a two-day war game exploring a “global financial war” involving China and Russia, according to “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis,” a 2011 book by James Rickards. ....“Our charge at Darpa is to think far out,” he said. “It’s not ‘What is the attack today?’ but ‘What are the vectors of attack 20 years from now?’”
Pentagon  financial_markets  financial_system  vulnerabilities  DARPA  traders  hedge_funds  Wall_Street  hackers  books  rogue_actors  scenario-planning  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  cyberattacks  high-frequency_trading  pilot_programs  contagions 
october 2017 by jerryking
Lunch with the FT: Mariana Mazzucato - FT.com
August 14, 2015 12:07 pm
Lunch with the FT: Mariana Mazzucato
John Thornhill

* Mazzucato’s book The Entrepreneurial State

As Mazzucato explains it, the traditional way of framing the debate about wealth creation is to picture the private sector as a magnificent lion caged by the public sector. Remove the bars, and the lion roams and roars. In fact, she argues, private sector companies are rarely lions; far more often they are kittens. Managers tend to be more concerned with cutting costs, buying back their shares and maximising their share prices (and stock options) than they are in investing in research and development and boosting long-term growth.
“As soon as I started looking at these issues, I started realising how much language matters. If you just talk about the state as a facilitator, as a de-risker, as an incentiviser, as a fixer of market failures, it ends up structuring what you do,” she says. But the state plays a far more creative role, she insists, in terms of declaring grand missions (the US ambition to go to the moon, or the German goal of creating nuclear-free energy), and investing in the early-stage development of many industries, including semiconductors, the internet and fracking. “You always require the state to roar.”
... Some tech and pharmaceuticals companies are going to extravagant lengths to reduce their taxes, one of the ways in which they pay back the state. The more libertarian wing of Silicon Valley is even talking of secession from California so they can pay no tax at all. “Won’t it be nice when there’s the next tsunami and these guys call the coastguard,” she says....
One criticism of Mazzucato’s work is that she fetishises the public sector in much the same way that rightwing commentators idolise the private sector. She appears stung by the suggestion: “I’m from Italy, believe me, I don’t romanticise the state.” The challenge, she says, is to rebalance the relationship between the private sector, which is all too often overly financialised and parasitic, and the public sector, which is frequently unimaginative and fearful. “When you have a courageous, mission-oriented public sector, it affects not just investment but the relationships and the deals it does with the private sector,” she says. Europe’s left-wing parties could have run with this agenda. Instead, she says, they have “absolutely failed” to change the political discourse by obsessing about value extraction rather than value creation, by focusing more on taxing big business than fostering innovation.

====================================================
The Chinese get the state to do that risky and costly, research and the development to keep them ahead.

The US does the same, but just keeps quiet about it so it doesn’t spoil the narrative.
“The parts of the smart phone that make it smart—GPS, touch screens, the Internet—were advanced by the Defense Department. Tesla’s battery technologies and solar panels came out of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Google’s search engine algorithm was boosted by a National Science Foundation innovation. Many innovative new drugs have come out of NIH research.!” http://time.com/4089171/mariana-mazzucato/
activism  books  breakthroughs  DARPA  de-risking  Department_of_Energy  early-stage  economists  fracking  free-riding  innovation  Mariana_Mazzucato  mission-driven  moonshots  NIH  NSF  private_sector  public_sector  semiconductors  Silicon_Valley  sovereign-risk  state-as-facilitator  value_creation  value_extraction  women 
august 2015 by jerryking
America the Innovative? - NYTimes.com
March 30, 2013 | NYT | By EAMONN FINGLETON.

How do we explain America’s sudden mid-20th-century ascent to technological glory? The credit goes not to freedom but to something more prosaic: money. With World War II, the United States government joined corporations in ramping up spending on R&D, and then came the cold war and the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik in 1957, which gave further impetus to government-funded research. One result was Darpa, which helped develop the Internet.

Throughout history, rich nations have gotten to the future first. Their companies can afford to equip their tinkerers and visionaries with the most advanced materials, instruments and knowledge.

This raises an epochal question: as China becomes richer, is it destined to pass the United States as the world’s most inventive nation? The question is all the more pertinent because many experts contend that America’s inventive spirit is already flagging. As the Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel put it to me in an interview, American innovation in recent decades has been remarkably narrowly based. “It has been confined largely to information technology and financial services,” he said. “By contrast in transportation, for instance, we are hardly more advanced today than we were 40 years ago. The story is similar in treating cancer.”
China  U.S.  competitiveness_of_nations  innovation  creativity  China_rising  patents  DARPA  Cold_War  America_in_Decline?  post-WWII  Peter_Thiel  inventiveness  visionaries  abundance  state-as-facilitator  tinkerers 
april 2013 by jerryking
Working With Big Data: The New Math - WSJ.com
March 8, 2013| WSJ | By DEBORAH GAGE.

Researchers turn to esoteric mathematics to help make sense of it all.

New views [of old data are arriving] came courtesy of software that uses topology, a branch of math that compresses relationships in complex data into shapes researchers can manipulate and probe....

Better Tools
Seeking better tools than traditional statistical methods to analyze the vast amounts of data newly available to companies and organizations, researchers increasingly are scouring scientific papers and esoteric branches of mathematics like topology to make sense of complex data sets. The developer of the software used by Dr. Lum, Ayasdi, is just one of a small but growing number of companies working in this field.

So much data is now available, in such vast scope and minute detail, it is no longer useful to look at numbers neatly laid out in two-dimensional columns and rows,.....The research that inspired Ayasdi was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, and the National Science Foundation.......Data is so complex that using the same old methods, asking the same old questions, doesn't make sense....What is useful, he says, is to look at data arranged in shapes, using topology.

Topology is a form of geometry that relies on the way humans perceive shapes. We can see that an A is an A even when the letters are squashed or written in different fonts. Topology helps researchers look at a set of data and think about its similarities, even when some of the underlying details may be different....But topology is just one of the new methods being explored. Chris Kemp, former chief technology officer for IT at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and now the chief executive of cloud computing company Nebula Inc., says he expects to see a renaissance in advanced mathematics and algorithms as companies increasingly realize how valuable data is and how cheaply they can store it.......Using graph theory, a tool similar to topology, IBM is mapping interactions of people on social networks, including its own. In diagrams based on the communications traffic, each person is a node, and communications between people are links. Graph-theory algorithms help discover the shortest path between the nodes, and thus reveal social cliques—or subcommunities—which show up because the cliques are more tightly interconnected than the community around them.......Tellagence's algorithms, for example, predicts how information will travel as it moves through social networks, but assumes that the network will change constantly, like the weather, and that what's most important about the data is the context in which it appears.

These techniques helped Tellagence do a bit of detective work for a Silicon Valley company that wanted to track down the source of some influential ideas being discussed online about the kind of integrated circuits it makes, known as field programmable gate arrays. Tellagence identified a group of more than 100 Japanese engineers involved in online discussions about the circuits. It then pinpointed two or three people whom traffic patterns showed were at the center of the conversation.

Tellagence's customer then devised a strategy to approach the engineers and potentially benefit from their ideas.

Says Tellagence CEO Matt Hixson, "We love to talk about people who have followers or friends, but these engineers were none of that—they had the right set of relationships because the right people listened to them."
algorithms  Ayasdi  DARPA  esoteric  IBM  infographics  massive_data_sets  mapping  mathematics  Nebula  networks  patterns  sense-making  Tellagence  the_right_people  tools  topology  visualization 
march 2013 by jerryking
Microdrones, Some as Small as Bugs, Are Poised to Alter War - NYTimes.com
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and THOM SHANKER
June 19, 2011

From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the
way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the
Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared
around the world....Large or small, drones raise questions about the
growing disconnect between the American public and its wars. Military
ethicists concede that drones can turn war into a video game, inflict
civilian casualties and, with no Americans directly at risk, more easily
draw the United States into conflicts. Drones have also created a
crisis of information for analysts on the end of a daily video
deluge.
warfare  drones  DARPA  information_overload  war 
june 2011 by jerryking

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