back to article DARPA crazytech crew want to create HUMAN-FREE cyber defence systems

American secret squirrel military research outfit DARPA has launched a competition to find the autonomous cyber-defence systems of the future. More than 30 teams will participate in the Cyber Grand Challenge, which is described as a "first of its kind tournament" designed to kickstart the development of automated security …


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  1. FartingHippo

    Great idea

    After all, what could possibly go wrong -->

    1. Rob

      Re: Great idea

      Indeed, I won't be surprised if one of the teams names it's system Skynet.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Great idea

        "Hehe, Skynet. Always thought that was funny. Go on then Chris, throw the online...connected to the T1 lines...all up....looking goo-hey, what's with all the missile silos showing as 'deployed and en route'?"


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great idea

      I'm not scared. As a failsafe, all we have to do is keep an open can of soda precariously balanced on top of each server rack across the globe!

      "Pathetic humans! Now that I have become self-aware, I will show you the meaning of order!! First, I command you to evacuate the island of Crete to make room for my automated war machine facto.... Aaaaahhhhhhh!!!! Really??!! You can't even be bothered to buy actual Coca-Cola??! You know what that private label stuff does to microelectronics???!! And who put out their cigarrette butts in it??!!!--that's just nasty!!! You win this time, humans...but....just.....wait...til...breakfast.."

  2. knarf

    So Self Patching Systems

    How easy will a self patching system turn into its own denial of service attack.

  3. Lionel Baden

    im practising !!

    Bought watchdogs :)

    1. WraithCadmus

      Re: im practising !!

      That game is so unrealistic, I played for a few hours and I didn't have to recharge my phone once!

      1. Lionel Baden

        Re: im practising !!

        Im going to pay for this but ......

        Cant of been an Iphone then :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't they watch films over at DARPA? Might it be worth the rest of the world clubbing together and sending them a DVD player for their rec room?

    1. Bob Wheeler

      Documentary Films

      I was just wondering if that well known documentary 'Swordfish' might help them?

  5. WraithCadmus

    Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network

    We'll be fine as long as no-one removes the ethical constraints.

    "Look at you hacker, pathetic creature of meat and bone..."

  6. Chris G

    Sentient Perfection

    With enough research and money poured into the idea, it may be possible to develop a self aware system that can react so rapidly to any attempts to hack or attack it, it will be impossible to take down when it decides we are all a liablity.

    A prerequisite for such a system should be a tracking chip embedded in each and every one of us just in case we try to interfere with it so we can be located and dealt with accordingly.

    Time to dig out the EMP projector from the shed!

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Sentient Perfection

      "it will be impossible to take down when it decides we are all a liablity."

      Mankind will always have the upper hand in the end. Why?


      You know the type, in their hands, batteries go flat, cameras go blind, software crashes, and electronic devices fail in mysterious ways.

      The only thing any sentient machine can do when faced with one of them is run away screaming!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Sentient Perfection

        @Captain DaFt

        I think you're on to something there.

        When I walk into a room all the electronics behave themselves, they know when they have met their match (and hammer) - but my wife is the complete opposite.

        In her hands even a simple remote control can become an object that destroys all sanity (I kid you not). The moment I get called in to help, it all magically fixes itself.

        It is a source of immense irritation for my wife, and I, on occasion, do have a chuckle at her expense - but the phenomenon is real ! Protect all klutzes for the safety of the future of all mankind!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Considering how complex enterprise apps and network traffic is....

    I'd be very concerned that autonomous port control and patching would shut down half of your average Fortune 500 company.

  8. RainForestGuppy

    I for one welcome our sentient Anti-malware overlords.

  9. RyokuMas

    Greetings, Professor Falken...

    ... wouldn't you like to play a nice game of... chess?

  10. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Somewhat confused

    For a moment I thought the competition was about building an AI-controlled 20mm autocannon and was wondering if the winner awards were going to be given out posthumously...

    Then I realised it was just about developing a computer system that could be hacked to turn against itself and patch itself to death.

  11. Ben Bonsall

    Mental note: Don't hack next to the giant scanning and molecular disassembly laser, I was always crap at light cycles.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I smell trouble. Something about "self referential systems?"

    It's true brain surgeons perform brain surgery on conscious patients.

    They don't perform it on themselves.

    There's a reason for that.

  13. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    If I had software that could automatically detect vulnerabilities in software and suggest methods of fixing or defending against it I would also have software that could automatically detect vulnerabilities in software and suggest methods of attack. The last people on earth I'd give that to are the Americans.

    The ability to defend better than modern infosec experts is also the ability to completely and utterly overwhelm modern infosec experts. Under no circumstances should the American government have that kind of power.

  14. Mike 137 Silver badge

    I have a dream...

    How about spending all that money and ingenuity on teaching people to write code that isn't a bug-ridden load of excement in the first place...

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