The Pentagon’s Brain by Annie Jacobsen
The Pentagon’s Brain in a new look at the history of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) which is the U.S. Defense Departments scientific research arm. This book is a well written look at the history of DARPA from the very beginning until now. Using research into many declassified documents and interviews with many past key figures, the author tells a very interesting story of DARPA.
The book includes some fascinating pieces of history most Americans probably still don’t know like the fact that during the weeks of the Cuban Missile Crisis 3 nuclear bombs were actually tested (2 by U.S. & 1 by Soviet Union). Talk about an insane time to conduct nuclear tests, right in the middle of a nuclear standoff when either side could have mistaken the tests for strikes and unleashed their nuclear arsenals.
Many of our most useful and important everyday technologies are a result of DARPA’s efforts such as the Internet which was originally call DARPANET and used only for sharing files among academics that were involved in defense research projects. Or GPS that we all use now in our cars and smart phones.
This history of one of the most secretive agencies and most influential in all our lives reads like a good story and was hard to put down. Weakest part of this book for me was when the book touches on some of the most interesting current technologies like armed robots and artificial intelligence, the treatment of the real moral and ethical issues that come with these technologies was given way too light a treatment in the book. The Eisenhower warning to beware of the Military Industrial Complex was certainly touched on throughout the book but again in a very light fashion.
Definitely a very enjoyable and interesting book, that is worth your reading time. So as usual HIT THE BOOKS, THEY DON’T HIT BACK!