Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Department of Knowing All About You; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 11, 2017

James Bamford, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The Department of Knowing All About You

"For decades, from the first World Trade Center bombing to 9/​11 to the recent Syrian poison gas attack, U.S. intelligence agencies have consistently been caught off guard, despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on spies, eavesdroppers and satellites. IARPA’s answer is “anticipatory intelligence,” predicting the crime or event before it happens.

Like a scene from “Minority Report,” the 2002 film in which criminals are caught and punished by “precrime” police before they can commit their deeds, IARPA hopes to find terrorists, hackers and even protesters before they act. The group is devising robotic machines that can find virtually everything about everyone and issue automatic “precrime” alerts.

That’s the idea behind the agency’s Open Source Indicators (OSI) program: Build powerful automated computers, armed with artificial intelligence, specialized algorithms and machine learning, capable of cataloging the lives of everyone everywhere, 24/​7. Tapping real-time into tens of thousands of different data streams — every Facebook post, tweet and YouTube video; every tollbooth tag number; every GPS download, web search and news feed; every street camera video; every restaurant reservation on Open Table — largely eliminates surprise from the intelligence equation. To IARPA, the bigger the data, the fewer and smaller the surprises."

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