The Total Information Awareness (TIA) program (later renamed the “Terrorism Information Awareness” program) was a “systems-level” program under development by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration in the aftermath of 9/11. Its goal was to develop information technologies to “mine” publicly available data to detect, classify, and identify potential foreign terrorists with the goal to increase the probability that the United States could preempt adverse actions.
As a systems-level program TIA was intended to integrate and link a host of other data collection and analysis programs – some of them already in existence, others under development. In the end, its goal was to develop predictive models through data mining or human hypothesis that would allow the United States to identify terrorists and terrorist groups before they acted.
A number of sub-component programs were to be linked into TIA. Among the most notable were:
- Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) – a project of automated biometric identification;
- Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery (EELD) – a series of tools for data mining that would do automated discovery, extraction and linking of sparse evidence contained in large amounts of classified and unclassified data sources (such as phone call records, internet histories, or bank records);
- Genisys – a system that would allow the creation of “ultra-large, all-source information repositories” so that disparate and inconsistent databases can be integrated;
- Scalable Social Network Analysis (SSNA) – a program that would model the social networks of terrorist groups in an attempt to distinguish them from other non-terrorist groups;
- Futures Markets Applied to Prediction (FutureMAP) – an effort to use prediction market techniques to create a “market” for terrorism events, akin to the stock market in predicting future events
- Translingual Information Detection, Extraction and Summarization (TIDES) – an advanced language processing technology to automate translation;
- Genoa and Genoa II — decision-support and collaboration tools to rapidly deal with and adjust to dynamic crisis management and allow for inter-agency collaboration in real-time;
- Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment (WAE) – an effort to identify predictive indicators of terrorist activity or impending attacks by examining individual and group behavior in broad environmental context and examining the motivation of specific terrorists; and
- Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-Text (EARS) – an automated speech transcription technology.
In the end, controversy about the overall program, its director (Admiral John Poindexter), and some of its subcomponents (most notably the FutureMAP terrorism market) led to cancellation of the program. Several of the components are said to have continued in a classified context. Other programs (like EARS) eventually became publicly available products in the market.