Recorded Future is a company that monitors the web in real time with the goal of making future predictions. This company has been backed by both Google Ventures, the investment arm of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the CIA. There is something about this technology and the organisations surrounding it that has profoundly affected me – this really is the future (and I’m starting to bounce the date 1984 around my head).
This extraordinary company scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to locate the relationships between people, organisations, actions and events – for both the present and still-to-come. The company has released a white paper stating its temporal analytics engine ‘goes beyond search….looking at the invisible links between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events’.
Recorded Future figures out for each event who was involved, where it took place and when it might go down. This information can then be plotted and thus showing the online momentum for any given incident. A Swedish PhD computer scientist called Christopher Ahlberg is one of the company CEO’s, he says ‘the cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases’.Recorded Future also create of past military and intelligence agency projects such as Total Information Awareness and MATRIX, LifeLog and also the Brain Machine Interfaces enterprise.
This future prediction is what has attracted Google Venture and In-Q-Tel to this firm run by 16 people out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel are the investment divisions for big G and the CIA.
Check out the video below to get an idea of how Recorded Future works.
There are three stories within this article that all deserve a PhD paper within themselves. The first story is Recorded Future, it is one mean piece of technology/tool/equipment whatever you want to call it, and it has massive implications for the way we live our lives. The second is how much can we actually trust Google? Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) controls the Internet and constantly collects data on all of us, have a look at Google Alarm and 1 ‘Rogue’ Engineer, 30 Countries and 600GB of Payload Data. The third is, how much is the CIA creeping into our lives? Do they really need to be reading our tweets and facebook messages? All very important issues which I think all web users need to take seriously but no doubt they will be glossed over in the same way as facebook privacy issues.This is not the first investment In-Q-Tel has invested in online technology. In 2009 the CIA invested in Visible Technologies, a software firm that specialises in monitoring social media. This means that CIA can keep an eye on what we write in our blogs, what we write on Twitter and even our book reviews on Amazon.There seems to be a relationship growing between Google and American spy agencies.Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks and it has sold equipment to the secret signal-intelligence group. Not only this, the firm Keyhole which is now the backbone of Google Earth was backed by in-Q-Tel and eventually bought by Google. This is, however, the first time a startup firm has been supported by both the intelligence community and big G at the same time.Nobody is yet accusing big G of direct collaboration with the CIA but this is going to raise an eye brow or two. big G has already come under fire but many of us who can see how it now controls the way people do business online. They have been getting closer and closer to the U.S. government and exposing the hypocrisy in their message ‘don’t be evil‘.Spy organisations in the U.S. have had an increasing interest in ‘open source intelligence’. This is information that is publicly available, on TV, newspapers, magazines, blogs, YouTube, radio etc.
The CIA-director General Michael Hayden says that ‘secret information isn’t always the brass ring in our profession’ going on to say ‘In fact, there’s a real satisfaction in solving a problem or answering a tough question with information that someone was stupid enough to leave out in the open’. Visible Technologies looks at half a million web 2.0 sites a day; ‘attensity’ applies the rules of grammar to unstructured text and makes it available to government databases in an easier format to digest. KEYHOLE is used to watch cells working for the military-intelligence.Recorded Future takes away from web pages the people, places and events they mention. Using spatial and temporary analysis the firm examines when and where these events happened and by using sentiment analysis they can judge the tone of the document. Mix in some A.I (artificial-intelligence) algorithms and they can work out the connections between the different players. Hosted on Amazon servers are over 100 million events indexed by Recorded Future, but the analysis is taking place on the living web.There is a lot of evidence to show that the Recorded Future technology is functional. An interesting example is Hezbollah’s long-range missiles. Israeli President Shimon Peres shot at allegation at the terror group, stating that had Scud-like weapons on March 21. If you search Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s past statements using Recorded Future you can find corroborating evidence a month prior.
It is said that Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel made their investments in 2009, both investing under $10 million each. Both organisations have seats on the board of Recorded Future. It seems that Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel are keeping tight lips, big G have refused to comment while the CIA have only said ‘we are pleased that Recorded Future is now part of IQT’s portfolio of innovative startup companies who support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community’ (what mission? I ask myself).
Is Big G is bed with the U.S. government? I don’t know but it sure seems like it, we are all waiting to see how transparent the future deals will be. If we can see the entire records then maybe we can breathe easy but if there are blank spots then it is going to stir up a lot of resentment. The troublesome issue is resentment abroad, how much are they going to annoy people oversees.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent US Government agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers.