DARPA crowdsourcing chief joins Microsoft

Designed DARPA's Network Challenge contest

DARPA’s top crowdsourcing guru is stepping down from his post to join Microsoft, reports Wired.com's Danger Room blog. Peter Lee, head of the agency’s Transformational Convergence Technology Office, served only one year with the government.

Lee, who used to head Carnegie Mellon’s University's computer science department, advocated using crowdsourcing techniques and other methods to identify and attract talent for DARPA. The TCTO’s mission is to look for emerging trends, identify potential disruptive technologies and create interdisciplinary research programs. The office’s research focuses on areas such as the analysis and exploitation of complex networks, which includes social networking, crowdsourcing, communications and behavioral science applications. That office's researchers are also looking into synthetic biology, machine intelligence and resilient computing systems.

During his brief tenure, Lee helped organize the DARPA Network Challenge, a contest that had participants searching the country for 10 randomly placed large red balloons. According to DARPA, the challenge was an attempt to “explore the roles the Internet and social networking play [in] timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization.”

Under Lee, the TCTO launched the Transformative Apps project to create a marketplace for warfighter software. “It’s like an iPhone store. Everybody figures out rapidly which apps are really the coolest. And instead of paying for the development of software, we pay for the usage,”Dan Kaufman, director of DARPA’s Information Processing Techniques Office told Wired’s Danger Room blog. Kaufman will be assuming Lee’s accounts and intends to follow Lee’s approach.

Lee will officially leave DARPA in the fall to become the managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond.

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