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How Dominic Cummings’ obsession with one 1960s American think tank reveals his plans for Britain

Cummings sees the 1960s at ARPA as a roadmap for UK innovation. But is he drawing the wrong lessons from the agency's success?

By Madeleine Gabriel  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former senior adviser Dominic Cummings. Photo: PA

The Dream Machine, The Imagineers of War, The Pentagon’s Brain… Perhaps not phrases you’d normally associate with a research funding agency. But these are all titles of books about the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)—an American funding body with almost mythical status in some quarters.

US President Dwight D Eisenhower set up ARPA in 1958. It was a response to the Soviet Union’s launch of the first Sputnik satellite, which had caught the US by surprise. ARPA’s mission…

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