[Research] NYTimes: Pentagon Redirects Its Research Dollars


I've always wondered why we humans are so short-sighted.

I also have the bad feeling that we're slowly sabotaging ourselves, and this is just yet another symptom of the same "death from a thousand blows" that we've been inflicting on ourselves since 9/11. Short term (and rather meager) gains at the cost of long-term sustainable benefits.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon - which has long underwritten open-ended "blue sky" research by the nation's best computer scientists - is sharply cutting such spending at universities, researchers say, in favor of financing more classified work and narrowly defined projects that promise a more immediate payoff.


University researchers, usually reluctant to speak out, have started quietly challenging the agency's new approach. They assert that Darpa has shifted a lot more work in recent years to military contractors, adopted a focus on short-term projects while cutting support for basic research, classified formerly open projects as secret and placed new restrictions on sharing information.


The agency cited a number of reasons for the decline: increased reliance on corporate research; a need for more classified projects since 9/11; Congress's decision to end controversial projects like Total Information Awareness because of privacy fears; and the shift of some basic research to advanced weapons systems development.


As a result of the new restrictions, a number of computer scientists said they had chosen not to work with Darpa any longer. Last year, the agency offered to support research by Leonard Kleinrock, a computer scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles who was one of the small group of researchers who developed the Arpanet, the 1960's predecessor to today's Internet.

Dr. Kleinrock said that he decided that he was not interested in the project when he learned that the agency was insisting that he employ only graduate assistants with American citizenship.


That has created problems for university researchers. Several scientists have been instructed, for example, to remove previously published results from Web sites. And at U.C.L.A. and Berkeley, Darpa officials tried to classify software research done under a contract that specified that the results would be distributed under so-called open-source licensing terms.


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