back to article DARPA hands BBN $30m in evil 'Machine Reading' plan

Famed techsploration company BBN - renowned for inventing forerunner internet kit, and for giving the world the "@" symbol in email addresses - has received a hefty wedge of green from the US military to automate out of business everyone who uses the internet for a living. DARPA graphic explaining how you evaluate AI auto- …


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  1. Secretgeek

    Hello money, meet some ageing rope.

    If all it takes to get $30M from DARPA is some arrows pointing at a 'Mr Funnel Head' smiley face I'm going to get my 3 year old nephew to knock a few ideas together!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Machine Reading

    Does these mean that those of us who live in the jewel of the Thames Valley are going to get free cybernetic enhancements?

  3. Paul 4

    RE: Machine Reading

    Isent that mad cybernetics prof working at Reading? I can't remeber his fliping name, but hes the one who implants chips into himself and stuff.

  4. Elmer Phud

    Instant News

    "reading the internet and reprocessing it"

    That would mean the end of the tabloid hacks who do thier reporting from Starbucks.

    I bet Uncle Rupert and Dirty Desmond are already interested in the outcome.

    But maybe not the end of the reg hacks -- someone has to do the dirty work and actually 'read' the things.

    There is also the question of seeding the net with even more but deliberate total bollocks.

  5. ian 22
    Big Brother

    Can never work?

    Those (waves dissmisively) are mere implementation details.

  6. DiskJunky


    doesn't the cyc project already do that?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    free you for productive work

    Like any technology, the machine reading program won't (yet) eliminate human beings. Instead it will free analysts from searching for stuff, and leave them analyzing stuff the machine found, weeding out the junk and keeping the good bits.

    This might improve the quality of analysis possible. Then analysts should all keep their jobs. Or it might be that most analysts cannot do any better than cut and paste or make routine translations, in which case it was time for them to be re-deployed anyway.

    The ultimate problem with such a program is that it automates thinking. Thinking is the one thing we do that cows and horses and until recently telephones didn't do. Nobody is working on a machine that will free us from the need to eat, however, so automating thinking is probably the dumbest thing any knowledge worker ever worked on. That and android robots.

    Raise your hand now if you're working on any of these projects, so the rabble can know who to eat first.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ "Machine Reading" AC 14:55

    No, it means that Reading will be rendered soulless and dehumanised.

    It has yet to be ascertained how we will be able to tell.

  9. Marvin the Martian

    Natural language into formal language?

    That's easy if the "natural" language in question is Lojban.

    Yes, the XKCD cartoon was right --- the drawback of using that language is that you can only communicate with the type of people that wants to learn that language. And those people are a bit... special.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Skynet is DARPA

    Just one more "enabling technology" for Terminators to be constructed and operated under the control of Skynet. Couple this with the DARPA request for "intelligent" electronic components and chemicals which can "self-organise" themselves to form complex items such as routers, fuel cells, biofuel factories or medical drugs (as faithfully reported by El Reg, of course) and I think you can see where they're going - killing machines that can read, learn, adapt to any energy source, find new ways to communicate with their Skynet masters, even if you destroy all the transmitters and satellites, and manufacture toxins and poisons to eliminate even more humans.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    First Rule of Research

    This last aspect of the matter may have something to do with the fact that all authoritative analysis suggests that Machine Reading can never work

    No but give us some money and we will get it to work.

    After all we are cleverer than the last lot who tried it and have faster computers.

    Been around in a support role for people trying to do this for 10 years now and they are no further ahead. The latest wheeze is to say there is a lot of useful information in unstructured medical texts give us money and we will cure ****.

    Funnily enough drug companies seem to think that the case.

  12. Daniel Wilkie


    Is it just me that thinks this seems like a really REALLY bad idea? Don't get me wrong - the gene pool needs some chlorine, but a robot apocalypse is way down on my list of preferred apocalyptic scenarios. Indeed it ranks only slightly above the 60 tonne hummer sized bullet proof spider based apocalypse...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    even Reg hacks forced out of employment.

    Come on, you're machines already aren't you?

    I know I am.

  14. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Black Helicopters

    Test data

    Can we get amanfromMars to supply the test data? If it can extract some meaning from his unique outpourings then maybe, just maybe, they might be onto something.

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