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Google & CIA Invest in Future of Web Monitoring

     

Brett_Tabke

4:50 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

Which naturally makes the 16-person Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm attractive to Google Ventures, the search giant’s investment division, and to In-Q-Tel, which handles similar duties for the CIA and the wider intelligence community.

It’s not the very first time Google has done business with America’s spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 — and then became the backbone for Google Earth. [wired.com...]

henry0

5:11 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Isn't it like getting today tomorrow's paper!

Someone said a long while ago, the Nation that could forecast with a great degree of accuracy the weather will dominate the world.

Monitoring precise developing trends could lead to Market "tweaks".
The sky's the limit.

frontpage

5:19 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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As long as those Adsense checks keep coming in, ..."I see nothing!" ala Sgt Schultz. World's greatest hypocrites, the stark difference between 2003 and 2010 is amazing in what people find as outrageous.

iThink

8:30 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Once the news gets out in a mainstream media that Google is cooperating with CIA in a significant way, Google's reputation will take a big hit in most countries of the middle east, Africa as well as certain countries that were once part of Soviet Union. A vast majority or maybe almost the whole populations of these countries view CIA with suspicion that borders on hate because of CIA's murky past.

Now that Google has already been booted out of China, is it willing to let go of market share in countries accounting for another 20-25% of world's population?

londrum

8:39 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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how can they read the future by monitoring twitter, and the like?

take that iranian demo they had a while back, when everyone took to the streets. they had a big crackdown and people had to get the story out on twitter.
if they monitored it then, what would they have found? that a big demonstration was going on, and riots, thats all. they would have discovered what had already happened.

but how could they tell which way it would end up? the demo was put down in the end.
unless the president happened to twitter the notes of his meeting, i dont see how you can predict the future.

henry0

8:46 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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how can they read the future by monitoring twitter, and the like?


Isolate, record and monitor trend growth

Robert Charlton

8:48 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Also of interest with regard to this... the web interface and the commercial services the company offers....

RecordedFuture - YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/RecordedFuture
[youtube.com...]

This is a separate link for the default video that displays on the channel page....

Recorded Future - Welcome Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un8toBItXdo
[youtube.com...]

Chances are that the CIA would have a slightly more elaborate interface, perhaps with additional input. ;)

Timely in a creepy way... at a party last week, a friend I was talking to about Google said, "If Google can do that, imagine what the military can do."

jimbeetle

9:03 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There's some interesting stuff on Recorded Future's main blog and associated blogs.

Rising popularity of momentum curves [blog.recordedfuture.com] basically describes QDF:

Every time you type an entity name in the What field of our web user interface, you get a sparkline indicating the last 30 day’s momentum of that entity...

The momentum measure is used to present the most relevant query results in our web user interface...

dstiles

9:40 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Anyone know what the bot's signature / IP is likely to be? CiaGoogBot? :)

Seriously, we DO need to know. It's not just the middle/far east who don't trust cia - or even google!

celgins

11:52 pm on Jul 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is simply another attempt to secure access to an infinite amount of data. But at least both Google and the CIA admit their intent. When Google teamed up with the NSA [wired.com ] it was done under the guise of "securing the network." Yes--part of it is securing the net--and you can probably guess what the other part is.

It's actually kind of funny when Matt Cutts reported this on his blog a few years ago [mattcutts.com ]. Even then, Google and the CIA were probably talking.

"If Google can do that, imagine what the military can do."

If folks could only imagine.

J_RaD

12:07 am on Jul 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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They kind of have no choice but to disclose this, imagine the backlash if they didn't and then we found out this was going on for years.

leadegroot

12:15 pm on Jul 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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but how could they tell which way it would end up? the demo was put down in the end.


I don't believe thats quite what they are trying to do.
They wouldn't try and predict the result of the demonstration, it would be more about having a curve of the probability of a demo occurring under different conditions - trying to quantify the conditions.

Read an article, oh, must be 20 years ago with some fascinating work back then on various fields coming together to allow predictability of events. Its sort of the inverse of mob psychology. Mobs are predictable, if they are big enough, and the world population is big enough that almost anything has a mob element to it.

And, yes, this would eventually mean the predictability of the govt's response to the demonstration, but its a smaller sample to work with, so harder to do.

Maurice

12:39 pm on Jul 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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surprised that this isn't on a black budget why on earth would a security service say in public anything about its current sigint activities? it sort of defeats the whole purpose.

arieng

5:02 pm on Jul 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Looks like someone's been reading Asimov:

Psychohistory depends on the idea that, while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict the mass action of the gas to a high level of accuracy. (Physicists know this as the Kinetic theory.) Asimov applied this concept to the population of his fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered a quintillion. The character responsible for the science's creation, Hari Seldon, established two axioms:

1. that the population whose behaviour was modeled should be sufficiently large

2. that the population should remain in ignorance of the results of the application of psychohistorical analyses

[en.wikipedia.org...]

Propools

5:25 pm on Jul 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Timely in a creepy way... at a party last week, a friend I was talking to about Google said, "If Google can do that, imagine what the military can do."
I know.....Makes you think twice doesn't it, about what the government really knows vs. their disinformation.

Hugene

9:04 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

This is a lot of empty promises and lost investment money: predicting the future with web trends, this must be a joke. If anything, they'll just be able to monitor trends real time and avoid the Micheal Jackson death shutdown of G SERP fiasco.

If the links are invisible, it's because they aren't really there.
 

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