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DARPA's 'Improv' initiative crowdsources solutions to DIY terrorists

If you're a MacGyver type, the Feds would like a word.

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The quality gap between technology available to the Department of Defense and regular citizens is rapidly shrinking -- just look at UAVs. While that's a good thing for hobbyists, it also enables terrorists (either external or home-grown) to craft increasingly sophisticated devices and weapons, like IEDs, which is why DARPA launched its "Improv" initiative on Thursday.

The program will solicit feedback from both skilled hobbyists and experts across a range of industries -- from agriculture and transportation to medicine and infotech -- to identify and understand how common, off-the-shelf components can be repurposed as security threats. To that end, DARPA wants people to submit their repurposed system ideas with winning candidates receiving funding and government assistance to build a functional prototype within 90 days. From there, DARPA has the option submit qualifying prototypes to "a detailed evaluation regimen."

"DARPA often looks at the world from the point of view of our potential adversaries to predict what they might do with available technology," program manager John Main said in a statement. "Historically we did this by pulling together a small group of technical experts, but the easy availability in today's world of an enormous range of powerful technologies means that any group of experts only covers a small slice of the available possibilities. In Improv we are reaching out to the full range of technical experts to involve them in a critical national security issue."

The defense agency is holding a Proposer's Day webinar on March 29th.

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