DARPA launches quest for next generation of search

Memex programme will ‘individualise’ access to information, claims US military tech unit.

DARPA, the US military agency that spawned the internet, has launched a new project to overhaul the way we search the web.

Dubbed Memex, the programme's aim is to move from what the agency describes as a one-size-fits-all' approach to search favoured by Google and Bing towards a richer service that indexes and organises information in a personalised way.

According to DARPA, Memex will make it easier for military, governmental and commercial organisations to find and organise mission-critical information that is publicly available on the internet.

"We're envisioning a new paradigm for search that would tailor indexed content, search results and interface tools to individual users and specific subject areas, and not the other way around," said Chris White, DARPA programme manager.

"By inventing better methods for interacting with and sharing information, we want to improve search for everybody and individualise access to information. Ease of use for non-programmers is essential," White added.

Memex is named after a hypothetical device to supplement human memory described by Vannevar Bush, director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, in The Atlantic Monthly.

While the technology will ultimately apply to any public domain content, DARPA said it initially intends to develop Memex to help fight human trafficking.

The agency is inviting developers who would be interested in contributing to the programme to a Proposers' Day on Tuesday 18 February in Arlington, Virginia, and interested parties must register by 13 February.

The organisation cautioned, however, that it is specifically not interested in proposals for attributing anonymous services, deanonymising or attributing identity to servers or IP addresses, or accessing information not intended to be publicly available.

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