NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena has joined an initiative designed to network the complex uncharted territories of the Internet, in the so-called "Deep Web" and the "Dark Web."
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has developed a program called Memex which essentially serves as a search engine for both the Deep Web and Dark Web.
When someone looks something up in a search engine, the results that appear are only a small percentage of the results that actually exist on the Internet. The part most people don't see is called the Deep Web.
Local news from across Southern California
"Google and Bing and sort of the commonplace search engines are searching about three to five percent of the actual Internet," Chris Mattman, principal investigator for JPL's work on Memex, said. Everything beyond that is considered part of the Deep Web.
The Dark Web, on the other hand, has become known as a place for selling illegal things like drugs, organs, weapons, and for human trafficking exchanges, that can only be accessed through a specific browser.
Some of the unseen information in both places could be useful for tracking criminals, terrorist activities, or sex trafficking, which is part of the reason why DARPA created the program.
Mattman said DARPA's main goal for the program is to be a game changer in search.
The work JPL has been contributing to the project for the last nine to ten months helps visualize connections among documents in the Internet that may make searches easier, according to the manager of DARPA.
"We're developing next-generation search technologies that understand people, places, things and the connections between them," Mattman said.
Science organizations like NASA's JPL don't use typical search engines because it takes about 40 clicks to reach the data they are searching for.
Mattman said JPL's goal for Memex is for scientists to be able to retrieve information and data in as little as two to four clicks.
DARPA, with the help of JPL and 16 other selected primary contractors have made excellent progress on the three-year project so far, according to Mattman.
The program's progress is public, and can be viewed by going to the DARPA Open Catalogue and searching for "Memex".