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DARPA Director Leaves Pentagon For Google 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the needs-better-funding dept.
New submitter srussia writes with this quote from Wired: "DARPA director Regina Dugan will soon be stepping down from her position atop the Pentagon's premiere research shop to take a job with Google. Dugan, whose controversial tenure at the agency lasted just under three years, was 'offered and accepted at senior executive position' with the internet giant, according to DARPA spokesman Eric Mazzacone. She felt she could not say no to such an 'innovative company,' he adds. ... 'There is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at DARPA,' she told a congressional panel in March 2011. 'DARPA is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. DARPA is a place of doing.' For an agency that spent millions of dollars on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles, and mind-controlled limbs, it was something of a revolutionary statement. The shift was only one of the reasons why Dugan was a highly polarizing figure within her agency, and in the larger defense research community."
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DARPA Director Leaves Pentagon For Google

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  • by retech (1228598) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @12:52PM (#39389869)
    Guglielmo Marconi, Italian Scientist, invents a wireless telegraph that is able to send voice signals through the air via "radio" waves.
  • by stms (1132653) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @12:53PM (#39389881)

    You don't dream the future you build it. Yeah sure you had to have an idea but ideas are the easy part the hard part is implementation.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Exactly what I was thinking... I mean holy shit if I got paid to dream shit up, I would be saying
      "Quick... where do I sign!?!?"
    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @01:56PM (#39390241)

      There are various places you can live on the axes of basic versus applied research, though. DARPA traditionally spent a larger proportion of its budget on basic research than it does today; nowadays the vast majority of DARPA projects intend practical outcomes in the 3-5-year timeframe, often pairing universities doing near-term applied research with companies like Lockheed who're simultaneously implementing it, and expected to exercise considerable pressure on the university partners to focus their research on the near-term "deliverable". Traditionally, that was part of the DARPA budget, while blue-skies research, often in the form of block grants to e.g. a physics or CS research group, was another part of it. The relative percentages have shifted a lot towards the former.

      Some of the justification is that the NSF is supposed to fund basic research, while DARPA is supposed to fund things of near-term practical use to the military. That makes some sense conceptually, but a shift in DARPA priorities without a reallocation in funds between the NSF and DARPA means that in effect science/engineering research funding is being cut in favor of something that leans closer to military R&D.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @12:54PM (#39389889)

    you now work for the doubleclick of the 2000s.

  • WOW. She does calculation on her palms and knees. A Read Programmer [xkcd.com]
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @01:29PM (#39390077) Homepage

    It's probably because Google pays more.

    It seems late to be going to Google to do research. Five years ago, yes. Today, no. Google's innovations lately all seem to involve more intrusive advertising.

    I hope Google keeps funding the automatic driving effort. At least until some auto manufacturer picks it up. They're getting close to something usable. Now they need to switch from that rotating car-top Velodyne kludge LIDAR to multiple flash LIDARs like Advanced Scientific Concepts makes, and get the size and price down.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So true.. let's go ahead and fix that quote for her:

      She felt she could not say no to such an 'innovative company,' he adds. ... 'There is a time and a place for daydreaming while getting paid a ridiculous amount of money. But it is not at DARPA,'

      There we go, much better.

    • Do you have any idea how much a house cost in Silcon Valley? ... or maybe rent for an apartment?

      You need millions. Tens of millions for a middle class lifestyle if you have kids and want to buy ... gulp an actual house more than 1600 sq feet in a nice area.

      The econonics over there does not make sense and I still smell a huge bubble as only the top 5% can afford the median square foot home. If I had a family Google would have to pay me at least $1 million dollars to move as I do not want 85% of my income to

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      The private sector always pays more. Companies pay through the nose for director of X federal agency. They're buying that person's rolodex so that they can secure future federal contracts. It's a very lucrative business. All sorts of white house staffers end up on the board of directors of defense contractors and what have you.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        That explanation would make a lot more sense if she were going to a big defense contractor. Google might make a little on govt. contracts (I don't know), but by far, the vast majority is on selling ads. For that matter, google's current profit margin is far higher than what is possible from govt. contracts. Google [cnn.com] makes around 4 times the profit of Lockheed Martin [bloomberg.com] even though LM's revenues are 50% greater.
  • I'm not going to read the article. What does srussia mean by "the shift" which is in the last sentance? She created a controversial shift while head of darpa? Those exotic programs which are mentioned in the article ought to take a lot longer than 3 years to manifest, so weren't they already in motion when she took over?

    • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:10PM (#39390319)

      those exotic programs which are mentioned in the article ought to take a lot longer than 3 years to manifest

      DARPA = Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

      Yes, DARPA's place is exploring wild ideas, pushing the envelope. But the current administration doesn't want to fund basic research if it's related to the military so they appointed her to merge her budget with routine acquisitions; that way it looks like research is still in the budget when it was actually cut.

      It's just a coincidence that her leaving comes at a time when there's an investigation into some of those acquisitions that were no bid contracts to the company she founded and is still part owner of.

  • by lucm (889690) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @01:36PM (#39390127)

    Seriously she reminds me of Nina Sharp in Fringe.

    • She looks a bit older than when I saw her in person back around '98 or so... Still not too bad looking.

      Interesting to see a reference in TFA about her having close ties with one the DARPA contractors. Heard a comment that suggested she had a close tie with one of the contractors from the late 1990's.

      • I'll have what you are smoking. You think she looks good? WTF!

        • Keep in mind that I'm probably older than her and she looks better than a good number of women my age. She does remind me a bit of a former girlfriend. OTOH, she's obviously not likely to be appearing in the SI swimsuit issue...

          From some of the other posts, it looks like the OIG investigation may have had more of a reason for her leaving than she is letting on to.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If you're using porn stars and heavily made-up actresses as your basis for comparison, she's a frump at best. If you're using reality as your basis for comparison, she's at least adequately attractive for her age and the fact that she has more to do in her life than visit her personal trainer and her person esthetician. Maybe you should join us here in reality, which is a little less misogynistic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What did she get the government to do for Google while at DARPA which secured her this cushy position?

    I firmly believe that no government officer above a certain position, or elected representative, should be able to work in the private sector for at least ten years after they have left government. I couldn't give a fuck if this means we have to increase their salaries or be seen as paying them to do nothing. It would be so much better than the current revolving door situation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What did she get the government to do for Google while at DARPA

      It appears to be the other way around. Google's top executives are major Obama supporters, fundraisers, and donors. Giving her a cushy job as an escape from her "controversial tenure" at DARPA is another favor to the administration.

  • Embrace Evil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scareduck (177470) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:46PM (#39390473) Homepage Journal

    It is hard to imagine just how much this embraces the opposite of "Don't be evil". Bringing in someone from DARPA is pretty much a conduit to everything that is wrong and broken about American political life right now.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, bringing in someone from the eeeeeevil research agency that basically gave us Internet and many more is definitely eeeeeeevil thing to do.

      You google bashers need to work harder on your delivery, you lack impact.

    • by Smallpond (221300) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:33PM (#39390739) Homepage Journal

      It is hard to imagine just how much this embraces the opposite of "Don't be evil". Bringing in someone from DARPA is pretty much a conduit to everything that is wrong and broken about American political life right now.

      Suuuuuuuuuuure it is. This is just the start of Google Defense. Its their plan to come up with a better, ad-supported military.

      • by petsounds (593538)

        I guess you're under the impression that DARPA is just about killer robots and Mach 20 self-guided missiles. Maybe you forgot DARPA tried to create the Total Information Awareness [wikipedia.org] program [Most TIA programs are still running under different names]. Maybe you didn't see Rugan's All Things D interview where she admitted to "working closely" with Google. What better way to make the DARPA-Google relationship more cozy than to install a DARPA director at Google's skunkworks arm?

      • Skynet wasnt advertiser supported!

        Advanced Vaporisation, now brought to you by....

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Don't laugh about that. With informational/psychological warfare becoming much more important than physical combat, you can imagine a world where the enemy country is persuaded to either have self-destructive policies that minimize their threat (with misinformation) or cause them to merge in a way where they help join the offensive country (or a combination of both). If you consider that capitalism is a more civilized type of warfare where businesses fight as warlords in what attempts to be a free market,
    • by gtall (79522)

      What's broken about American political life is the Entitlements, that 2/3's of the budget that will sweep us all over the brink if it's growth isn't curtailed. DoD spending as a percentage of GDP has steadily gone down.

  • by cashman73 (855518) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:33PM (#39390743) Journal
    Prior to her departure, Ms. Dugan set up a meeting with President Obama to discuss her plans. At some point in the conversation Obama said: “Just tell me it’s not Google.” She told him it was Google.

    At that point, President Obama picked up a chair and threw it across the Oval Office, hitting a table. Obama then said: “F**king Eric Schmidt is a f**king pussy. I’m going to f**king bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f**king kill Google.”

    • by Anonymous Coward

      lol.. for those of you who missed the joke above:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Lucovsky

      Prior to her departure, Ms. Dugan set up a meeting with President Obama to discuss her plans. At some point in the conversation Obama said: “Just tell me it’s not Google.” She told him it was Google.

      At that point, President Obama picked up a chair and threw it across the Oval Office, hitting a table. Obama then said: “F**king Eric Schmidt is a f**king pussy. I’m going to f**king bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f**king kill Google.”

  • Google is perhaps running in a quasi military mad scientist model now.

    • by gtall (79522)

      She was never military, that's why she left. And given her reputation in DoD, Google won't be expecting any warm fuzzies from it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Federal Inspector General is investigating her for funneling money into favored contractors, including a company she founded and still largely owns.

    Internally to DoD, what Wired sees as "good politics" in closer coordination with the pentagon, others see as "misallocation of funds".

    Under her tenure the politicization of DARPA has accelerated. Lobbying firms are on DARPA payroll to determine program directions and make funding decisions. Program managers are being selected from among Congressional staf

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Regina was a shining example of an Obama political appointee. The linked article does not tell the story behind the story. She was accused of a conflict of interest when she sent DARPA business a company run by a "friend". She is stepping down to avoid a scandal.
  • First they 'investigate' you with all your colleagues. Then they reduce your security clearance. Next is work on lots of committees that actually do nothing. Finally they farm you out to a huge government contractor with a big title and nothing of any consequence to do. If you don't get the message then, they are quite prepared to dig up Senator Joseph McCarthy to look into your political allegiances. Resistance is futile!

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