Ian Lamont writes "Next month is the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch, but it's not just the start of mankind's exploration of space that should be observed. The 'October surprise' also changed computing forever, thanks to the subsequent creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency. J.C.R. Licklider, the first director of IT research at ARPA, catalyzed the invention of an astonishing array of IT, from computer graphics to microprocessors to the Internet ... and even an early 'electronic office.' However, the long-range vision that Licklider promoted at the agency is allegedly in danger, according to some observers quoted in the article: 'In the early years, ARPA was willing to fund things like artificial intelligence — take five years and see what happens,' [CMU Professor David Farber] says. 'Nobody cared whether you delivered something in six months. It was, "Go and put forth your best effort and see if you can budge the field." Now that's changed. It's more driven by, "What did you do for us this year?"' Former ARPA director Charles M. Herzfeld blames Congress and a new crop of 'wishy-washy' agency heads. DARPA's response: It still is investing heavily in technologies that may take years to come to market, such as universal language translation, realistic agent-based societal simulation environments, and photonic communications in a microprocessor having a theoretical maximum performance of 10 TFLOPS."
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