RE: How hard a Singularity?

From: Stephen Reed (
Date: Wed Jun 26 2002 - 21:29:29 MDT

Ben asked for more info about the Darpa Program Manager / Deputy Program
Manager career path. Any researchers on this list should take note.

>From the web site

The DARPA mission is to change people's minds as to what is possible.
Through the hiring of Scientists and Engineers as DARPA Program Managers,
the impossible becomes a reality. The DARPA Program Manager works with the
technical community to accelerate technology innovation, deployment, and
manufacturing learning. New projects are introduced each year. As a
result, we are continually looking for new managers.

The ideal Program Manager is technically deep, with excellent but eclectic
technology tastes, usually seasoned by five or more years of
accomplishment in industry, the military, or academia. He must be able to
integrate, innovate, and readily accept new ideas proposed by others. He
formulates a vision for the program; positions and advocates the program
within the context of DARPA's overall mission; charts a course for the
near-and long-term accomplishments necessary to reach the program
objectives; and manages all technical, procurement, and financial aspects
of the program. A Program Manager must complement technical excellence
with management and leadership skills, including people skills, public
speaking skills, project management experience, careful financial
management skills, the ability to make timely decisions, and a sense of
controlled urgency.

As a DARPA Program Manager, you can invest four years in public service
and make a difference. It will change the way you view the world. It will
be a service to your technical community and to the Nation. You can move
the world, if you stand in the right place.

...and here is some text describing the mission of one Darpa office:

DARPA's IPTO will create a new generation of computational and information
systems that possess capabilities far beyond those of current systems.
These cognitive systems - systems that know what they're doing:

* will be able to reason, using substantial amounts of appropriately
represented knowledge;

* will learn from their experiences and improve their performance over

* will be capable of explaining themselves and taking naturally
expressed direction from humans;

* will be aware of themselves and able to reflect on their own

* will be able to respond robustly to surprises, in a very general

On Wed, 26 Jun 2002, Ben Goertzel wrote:

> [Stephen Reed wrote:]
> > It now occurs to me that Eliezer (or any other researcher on this
> > list), with goal of becoming a Darpa program manager or deputy program
> > manager, could begin a career path that would develop the required skills
> > and get the attention of Darpa management. I gave a brief presentation to
> > the Darpa EELD program manager yesterday and these persons enjoy wielding
> > the leverage they have over funded project participants. You do
> > not have to
> > possess a PhD, but publications and graduate work is desirable - you need
> > only to have a well thought out vision, and be able to communicate that
> > vision to senior Darpa management - in competition with other program
> > managers. There is a good deal of turnover with Darpa PMs so Darpa is
> > allays looking.

> This is sort of an amusing idea. Specifically what sort of career path
> would one follow to secure such a position?
> I've got 8 years in academia and 5 years in the software industry -- am I
> qualified? ;)
> I would suppose that getting significant DARPA funding for one's own work
> would be a good first step, or is this not the case?

No, most of the Darpa PMs I know of, were not Darpa funded researchers
beforehand. Probably there is a conflict of interest bias at Darpa
against hiring from funded contractors.


Stephen L. Reed                  phone:  512.342.4036
Cycorp, Suite 100                  fax:  512.342.4040
3721 Executive Center Drive      email:
Austin, TX 78731                   web:
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