America’s spies, like the rest of the nation, are looking ahead to a period of austerity. The intelligence community is facing “double digit” budget cuts, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said today speaking at the annual the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas.
“Coincidentally today we handed in our homework assignment, if you will, to [the White House Office of Management and Budget], and it calls for cuts in the double-digit range with a ‘B’ over 10 years,” he said.
As the federal government attempts to find over $1 trillion in savings to meet budget-cutting goals, even intelligence spending is not immune to cuts. But the intelligence community does not normally divulge details of its budget, citing the need to keep its spending secret from foreign adversaries who might glean valuable information about the scope of activities. (Continue reading . . .)
In 2003, an Iraqi woman named Jumana Michael Hanna became the public face of torture under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein: her story of torture and rape was reported on the front-page of the Washington Post and cited in congressional testimony of Paul Wolfowitz.
None of her story, it was later revealed, was true.
But the ability of Hanna’s narrative to evoke emotion and sympathy and its rapid spread to an international audience proved an enduring truth: stories, ranging from urban myths to epic works of literature, exert a powerful influence over people and their beliefs.And in the era of social media, stories can spread with unprecedented speed to anywhere in the world, potentially influencing elections, protest movements or even revolutions. (Continue reading . . .)
Ten years ago, the military buzzword was network centric warfare, a theory which posited that U.S. military power would be dramatically enhanced by communications systems and information-sharing technology. Now, it turns out, the network the Pentagon wants to master is other people’s, rather than its own.
The Pentagon’s premiere research agency announced last week that it is seeking to build a better science of social network analysis, a relatively new field of research that many believe could be used to deliver a fatal blow to terrorist and insurgent groups. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking proposals for a new program called GRAPHS, short for Graph-theoretic Research in Algorithms and the Phenomenology of Social networks program. The goal is to get researchers to come up with “revolutionary” ways to model—and predict—social networks.
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Imagine a future where a U.S. military drone flies over a foreign city, spots a group of people, swoops in close enough to see their faces, and then kills an identified terrorist. Sound scary?
It should, since indeed the Pentagon is working on a variety of technologies designed to do just that.
A recent Washington Post article recounted a recent military-sponsored experiment that could lay the “groundwork for scientific advances that would allow drones to search for a human target and then make an identification based on facial-recognition or other software.” Similarly, Wired’s DANGER ROOM blog reported on some half a dozen contracts recently given by the Army to develop software that can instantly recognize specific people based on unique identifiers, such as their face.
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A research arm of the U.S. intelligence community says it want to sweep up public data on everything from Twitter to public webcams in the hopes of predicting the future.
The project is the brainchild of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, a relatively new part of the spy community that is supposed to help investigate breakthrough technologies. While other projects exist for predicting political events, the Open Source Indicators program would be perhaps the first that mines data from social media websites.
The idea is to use automated analysis to sift through the deluge of publicly available data to help predict significant societal events, like a popular revolution (Continue reading . . .)