Oh, hi there, SKYNET: US military wants self-enhancing software that will outlive its creators

DARPA's Hundred Years' War on bugs, upgrades and rewrites


The US military's nerve-center of secret-squirrel boffinry DARPA wants to write software capable of running for a full century without becoming obsolete.

Dubbed "Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems" (BRASS), the project [PDF] will look into the creation of a new software stack that can automatically make use of hardware upgrades and advancements in software engineering without the need for major rewrites, or the addition of layers and layers of hacks for decades on end.

Said adaptive, evolving software could ensure data stored today is still accessible scores of years later, and computer-controlled defenses installed now will continue to work as expected well into the future.

According to the project brief, the agency is throwing the door open to anyone with bright ideas on the subject:

DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the areas of formal methods, program analysis, compiler design, and runtime and virtual machine implementation to realize tools for the construction of long-lived, survivable, and scalable adaptive software systems. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.

(Please, please don't let them have heard of Skynet.)

"As modern software systems continue inexorably to increase in complexity and capability, users have become accustomed to periodic cycles of updating and upgrading to avoid obsolescence—if at some cost in terms of frustration," the brainiac HQ added.

"In the case of the US military, having access to well-functioning software systems and underlying content is critical to national security, but updates are no less problematic than among civilian users and often demand considerable time and expense."

BRASS will attempt to create a software architecture capable of running over 100 years without the need for major overhauls or crises, such as the infamous Y2K bug that needed patching everywhere – and feathered a fair number of consultants' nest eggs.

"Technology inevitably evolves, but very often corresponding changes in libraries, data formats, protocols, input characteristics and models of components in a software ecosystem undermine the behavior of applications," said DARPA program manager Suresh Jagannathan.

"The inability to seamlessly adapt to new operating conditions undermines productivity, hampers the development of cyber-secure infrastructure and raises the long-term risk that access to important digital content will be lost as the software that generates and interprets content becomes outdated." ®


Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022