Voices from DARPA

Voices from DARPA

Episode 79: Integrating ELSI

May 15, 2024

In this episode, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into ELSI – ethical, legal, and societal implications of new technologies and capabilities – and specific examples of how DARPA programs have incorporated those considerations into their structure.

We’re highlighting three examples of how DARPA integrated ELSI throughout the program lifecycle via the counsel of experts from the medical, scientific, legal, and ethics communities to assist program managers and performers in identifying and mitigating any potential issues.

The first program, out of our Biological Technologies Office, is Safe Genes, which supported force protection and military health and readiness by developing tools and methodologies to control, counter, and even reverse the effects of genome editing—including gene drives—in biological systems across scales.

The second program, Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) from our Tactical Technology Office (TTO) aimed to enable improved techniques for rapidly discriminating hostile intent and filtering out threats in complex urban environments.

And, finally, the current In the Moment program in our Information Innovation Office (I2O) seeks to identify key attributes underlying trusted human decision-making in dynamic settings and computationally representing those attributes, to generate a quantitative alignment framework for a trusted human decision-maker and an algorithm.

Show notes and links: 

Highlighted Programs: 

In the Moment (ITM): https://www.darpa.mil/program/in-the-moment  

Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA): https://www.darpa.mil/program/urban-reconnaissance-through-supervised-autonomy  


Safe Genes: https://www.darpa.mil/program/safe-genes  


Safe Genes Publications: 


  • Interdisciplinary development of a standardized introduction to gene drives for lay audiences 



  • A typology of community and stakeholder engagement based on documented examples in the field of novel vector control 



  • Codes