SRI International, based in the United States, is one of the world's largest contract research institutes. It was founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946 by the trustees of Stanford University as a center of innovation to support economic development in the region. Later it became fully independent and was incorporated as a non-profit organization under U.S. and California laws. SRI's headquarters are in Menlo Park, California, near the Stanford University campus. Curtis Carlson, Ph.D., is SRI's president and CEO. Year 2006 revenue for SRI, excluding its subsidiary, Sarnoff Corporation, was $308 million. Consolidated 2007 revenues were $435 million.
SRI, a nonprofit research institute, performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, and private foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships and creates spin-off companies.
SRI's focus areas include communications and networks, computing, economic development and science and technology policy, education, energy and the environment, engineering systems, pharmaceuticals and health sciences, homeland security and national defense, materials and structures, and robotics.
SRI has more than 1,000 patents and patent applications worldwide. SRI International conducts research and development in many areas, both independently and for hire, and sells reports on independent research.
In 1970, the Stanford Research Institute formally separated from Stanford University and, in 1977, became known as SRI International. The separation was a belated response to Vietnam war protesters at Stanford University who believed that SRI's DARPA-funded work was essentially making the university part of the military-industrial complex.
In the 1970s, SRI undertook a number of research projects outside of the scientific mainstream, including research into expanded human consciousness and claims of extraordinary human abilities such as those attributed to celebrity psychic Uri Geller (see below).
In 1952, the Technicolor Corporation contracted with SRI to develop a near-instantaneous electro-optical alternative to the manual process of timing during film copying. In 1959, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented the Scientific and Engineering Award jointly to SRI and the Technicolor Corporation for their work on the design and development of the Technicolor electronic printing timer which greatly benefited the motion picture industry.
In 1954, Southern Pacific asked SRI to investigate ways of reducing damage during rail freight shipments by mitigating shock to railroad box cars. This investigation led to the development of the Hydra-Cushion technology, which remains standard today.
In the 1950s, SRI worked under the direction of the Bank of America to develop ERMA (Electronic Recording Machine, Accounting), and magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) which as of 2007 is still the industry standard in automated check processing. The ERMA project was led by computer scientist Jerre Noe, who was at the time SRI's Assistant Director of Engineering.
In 1964, Bill English, then chief engineer at the ARC, built the first prototype of a computer mouse from Engelbart's design. Originally they intended to call it a "turtle," but when a mouse ran across their workbench they changed their minds .
From 1966 through 1972, SRI's Artificial Intelligence Center developed the first mobile robot to reason about its actions. Named "Shakey", the robot had a television camera, a triangulating range finder, and bump sensors. Shakey the Robot used software for perception, world-modeling, and acting. The Artificial Intelligence Center marked its 40th anniversary in 2006.
Hewitt Crane and his colleagues developed the world's first all-magnetic digital computer,, based upon extensions to magnetic core memories. The technology was licensed to AMP, who then used the technology to build specialized computers for controlling tracks in the New York City subway and on railroad switching yards.
In 1969, ARPANET, the world's first electronic computer network, was established on October 29 between nodes at Leonard Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and Douglas Engelbart's lab at SRI. Interface Message Processors at both sites served as the backbone of the first Internet.
In 1972, Dr. Harold E. Puthoff, then a researcher at SRI, put forth proposals to study quantum mechanics in life processes. This resulted in a series of studies in parapsychology, including the now controversial remote viewing programs that have been discontinued and partially declassified (see below).
In the late 1970s social scientist and consumer futurist Arnold Mitchell created the Values and Lifestyles psychographic methodology (VALS) to explain changing US values and lifestyles. VALS was formally inaugurated as an SRI International product in 1978 and was later cited by Advertising Age as "one of the ten top market research breakthroughs of the 1980s.
In 2006, SRI was awarded a $56.9 million contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to provide preclinical services for the development of drugs and antibodies for anti-infective treatments for avian influenza, SARS, West Nile virus, hepatitis, and more.
Also in 2006, SRI announced it has selected St. Petersburg, Florida as the site for a new marine technology research facility. The new facility will be called SRI-St. Petersburg and aims to accelerate research and development of technologies related to ocean science, the maritime industry and port security. SRI's expansion into Florida is a collaboration with the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and its Center for Ocean Technology, and is supported by the City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and the state of Florida.
SRI celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006.
In order to explore the nature of remote viewing channel, the viewer in some experiments was secured in a double-walled copper-screened Faraday cage. Although this provided attenuation of radio signals over a broad range of frequencies, the researchers found that it did not alter the subject's remote viewing capability. They postulated that extremely low frequency (ELF) propagation might be involved, since Faraday cage screening is less effective in the ELF range. Such a hypothesis had previously been put forward by telepathy researchers in the Soviet Union. The first paper by Puthoff and Targ on psychic research to appear in a mainstream peer-reviewed scientific journal was published in Nature in March 1974; in it, the team reported some degree of remote viewing success. One of the individuals involved in these initial studies at SRI was Uri Geller, a well-known celebrity psychic at the time. The research team reported witnessing some of Geller's trademark metal spoon-bending performances, but admitted that they were unable to conduct adequately controlled experiments to confirm any paranormal hypothesis about them.
Electroencephalography (EEG) techniques were also used by team to examine ESP phenomena. In these investigations, a sender, who was isolated in a visually opaque, electrically and acoustically shielded chamber, was stimulated at random by bursts of strobe-light flickers The experimenters reported that, for one receiver, differential alpha block on control and stimulus trials were observed, which showed that some information transfer had occurred. In contrast, this person's expressed statements of when the stimulus occurred were no different than that which would be expected by chance. The researches were unable to identify the physical parameters by which the EEG effect was mediated.
The various debates in the mainstream scientific literature prompted the editors of 'Proceedings of the IEEE' to invite Robert Jahn, then Dean of the School of Engineering at Princeton University, to write a comprehensive review of psychic phenomena from an engineering perspective. His paper, published in February 1982, includes numerous references to remote viewing replication studies at the time.
Several external researchers expressed concerns about the reliability of the judging process. Independent examination of some of the sketches and transcripts from the viewing process revealed flaws in the original procedures and analyses. In particular, the presence of sensory cues being available to the judges was noted. A lengthy exchange ensued, with the external researchers finally concluding that the failure of Puthoff and Targ to address their concerns meant that the claim of remote viewing "can no longer be regarded as falling within the scientific domain.
Procedural problems and researcher conflicts of interest in the psychokinesis experiments were noted by science writer Martin Gardner in a detailed analysis of the NASA final report.. Also, sloppy procedures in the conduct of the EEG study were reported by a visiting observer during another series of exchanges in the scientific literature.