IARPA & the BRAIN Initiative

Summary

The acronyms for the four BRAIN Initiative related IARPA programs are ICArUS. MICrONS, KRNS, and SHARP.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community (IC). IARPA does not have an operational mission and does not deploy technologies directly to the field. Instead, IARPA facilitates the transition of research results to our IC customers for operational application.

The acronyms for the four BRAIN Initiative related IARPA programs are ICArUS. MICrONS, KRNS, and SHARP.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community (IC). IARPA does not have an operational mission and does not deploy technologies directly to the field. Instead, IARPA facilitates the transition of research results to our IC customers for operational application.

IARPA and the BRAIN

Web Information

Website: www.iarpa.gov/
Neuroscience webpage: 
iarpa.gov/research-programs/neuroscience-programs-at-iarpa
Wikipedia Entry: wiki/Intelligence_Advanced_Research_Projects_Activity

 

Contact Information

Email: dni-iarpa-info@iarpa.gov
Phone: (301) 851-7500
Address: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Washington, DC 20511

 

About IARPA

IARPA collaborates across the IC

to ensure that our research addresses relevant future needs.
This cross-community focus ensures our ability to:

  • address cross-agency challenges
  • leverage both operational and R&D expertise from across the IC
  • coordinate transition strategies with our agency partners

IARPA does not have an operational mission and does not deploy technologies directly to the field. Instead, IARPA facilitates the transition of research results to our IC customers for operational application.

Our Leadership

IARPA is led by a distinguished group of accomplished scientists and researchers.

Our Organization

There are four research thrusts within IARPA embodied in four offices:

Office for Anticipating Surprise

The Office for Anticipating Surprise (OAS) focuses on characterizing and reducing uncertainty through anticipatory intelligence. The Office executes scientific research programs that develop new capabilities to deliver timely and accurate forecasts for a range of events relevant to national security

Office of Incisive Analysis

The Office of Incisive Analysis (IA) focuses on maximizing insights from the massive, disparate, unreliable and dynamic data that are—or could be—available to analysts, in a timely manner. We are pursuing new sources of information from existing and novel data, and we are investigating innovative techniques that can be utilized in the processes of analysis. Our programs are in diverse technical disciplines but have common features:

  • Involve potential transition partners at all stages, beginning with the definition of success;
  • Create technologies that can earn the trust of the analyst
    user by providing the reasoning for results;
  • Address uncertainty and data provenance explicitly

 

Office of Smart Collection

The Office of Smart Collection (SC) focuses on improving the value of collected data from all sources. The Office seeks to achieve this goal by, among other activities, developing new sensor and transmission technologies, new collection techniques that more precisely target desired information, and means for collecting information from previously inaccessible sources. In addition, the Office pursues new mechanisms for combining information gathered from multiple sources to enhance the quality, reliability, and utility of collected information.

Office of Safe & Secure Operations

The Office of Safe and Secure Operations (SSO) focuses on the IC’s ability to operate freely and effectively in an often hostile and increasingly interdependent and resource-constrained environment. Key research focus areas for SSO include information assurance, advanced computing technologies and architectures, quantum information science and technology, and threat detection and mitigation.

The four IARPA Offices

Our Approach

High-risk/High-payoff research

is about taking risks rather than going for quick wins or sure bets. In high-risk research, failures are inevitable. Failure is acceptable so long as the failure isn’t due to a lack of technical or programmatic integrity and the results are fully documented.

Our Standards

IARPA brings the best minds

in the field to bear on our research by sponsoring full and open competition to the greatest extent possible. We will not start a research program without both:

  • a powerful research idea
  • an exceptional person to manage the program

IARPA holds high standards for rigor in our research, and all IARPA programs are structured according to the Heilmeier framework. As a result, technical excellence and technical truth are the hallmarks of all IARPA programs.

Our History

Modeled after

the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), IARPA was established in 2006 with the mandate to:

  • conduct cross-community research
  • target new opportunities and innovations
  • generate revolutionary capabilities

IARPA was tasked to accomplish these objectives by drawing upon the technical and operational expertise that resides within the intelligence agencies. This ensured IARPA’s programs will be uniquely designed to anticipate the long-term needs of, and provide research and technical capabilities for, the Intelligence Community.

 

Neuroscience Programs at IARPA

ICArUS – Integrated Cognitive- Neuroscience Architectures for Understanding Sensemaking

The focus of the Integrated Cognitive- Neuroscience Architectures for Understanding Sensemaking (ICArUS)  Program is to understand and model how humans engage in the sensemaking process, both during optimal and suboptimal (biased) performance. Of particular interest are cognitive biases related to attention, memory, and decision making.

Sensemaking refers to the remarkable human ability to detect patterns in data, and to infer the underlying causes of those patterns – even when the data are sparse, noisy, and uncertain.

From the Kevin Burns, Mitre Corporation technical paper.

From the Kevin Burns, Mitre Corporation technical paper.

KRNS –  Knowledge Representation in Neural Systems

The goal of the Knowledge Representation in Neural Systems (KRNS) Program is to develop and rigorously evaluate theories that explain how the human brain represents conceptual knowledge.

In part the evaluation will rest on how well concepts can be interpreted from neural activity patterns using algorithms derived from the theories. In addition to new theories and algorithms, KRNS seeks the development of innovative protocols for evoking and measuring concept-related neural activity using neural imaging methods such as (but not limited to) fMRI, and MEG.

From Military & Aerospace artilce

From Military & Aerospace artilce

MICrONS – Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks

MICrONS, Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks,seeks to revolutionize machine learning by reverse-engineering the algorithms of the brain. The program is expressly designed as a dialogue between data science and neuroscience.

Participants in the program will have the unique opportunity to pose biological questions with the greatest potential to advance theories of neural computation and obtain answers through carefully planned experimentation and data analysis.

From IARPA slides titled "Reverse-Engineering the Algorithms of the Brain."

From IARPA slides titled “Reverse-Engineering the Algorithms of the Brain.”

SHARP – Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-Solving

The Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-Solving (SHARP) Program is seeking to fund rigorous, high-quality research to address these limitations and advance the science on optimizing human adaptive reasoning and problem-solving.

The goal of the program is to test and validate interventions that have the potential to significantly improve these capabilities, leading to improvements in performance for high-performing adults in information-rich environments.

From SHARP poster

From SHARP poster

Video

March 4, 2015 Multi-Council Working Group meeting

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