BBC Future

TED Quotes

From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone

We think someone else, someone smarter than us, someone more capable, someone with more resources will solve that problem. But there isn't anyone else. — Regina Dugan


"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" asks Regina Dugan, then director of Darpa, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In this breathtaking talk she describes some of the extraordinary projects - a robotic humming bird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, and, well, the internet - that her agency has created by not worrying that they might fail. (Followed by a Q&A with TED's Chris Anderson) Talk recorded 1 March 2012.

About the Speaker

Regina Dugan directed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the US Department of Defense innovation engine responsible for creating and preventing strategic surprise. With a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Caltech and master's and bachelor's degrees from Virginia Tech, Dr Dugan is a business woman, inventor, and technology developer who rolls up her sleeves and goes directly to a problem whether it's in the lab or in Afghanistan.  She's been called a "technogeek" with a knack for inspiring creative thinking, an artist-engineer.  Many credit Dugan as a scientific coach, mentor, cheerleader and taskmaster.  As a 2010 New York Times article explained, there are four stages to an encounter with Regina Dugan - "being a little scared, really scared, frustrated and then enlightened."  Vision alone is insufficient for Dugan. Rather, vision must be paired with the power of execution in order to make impossible things possible. She now works for Google.

To comment on this video or anything else you have seen on Future, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.