Book Review: The Pentagon’s Brain by Annie Jacobsen


Courtesy of Little, Brown & Company

The Pentagon’s Brain

By Annie Jacobsen

LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY

Imagine a research incubator that steals ideas from sci-fi novels and movies like The Terminator and turns wild theories into technologies far beyond what’s commercially available. We’re talking, of course, about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the birthplace of spy satellites and a bomb—”an evil thing”—that could wipe out millions. DARPA’s eggheads once even tried to create a literal force field against Soviet warheads; nowadays, envisioning “a mentally and physically superior breed” of warfighters, they tinker with “transhumanism” and cyborg tech. In this fascinating and terrifying account, Annie Jacobsen regales us with the stories behind the agency’s “consequential and sometimes Orwellian” innovations, including autonomous weapons systems—killer robots that could decide, without human intervention, who lives and who dies. As Jacobsen ominously puts it, “DARPA creates, DARPA dominates, and when sent to the battlefield, DARPA destroys.”


If you buy a book using a Bookshop link on this page, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate