Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"The CIA Says It Can Predict Social Unrest as Early as 3 to 5 Days Out"

During the color revolutions, 2000-2016, and the Arab spring I kept wondering if the CIA was leading or following.
The former makes it easier to predict stuff.
The latter gives rise to quotes like that attributed to Ledru-Rollin during the 1848 revolution:
"Il faut bien que je les suive, puisque je suis leur chef"*
From Defense One:

The reason: a dramatic improvement in analytics, cloud computing and ‘deep learning.’  
What a difference 12 months can make.
Last year around this time, CIA stood up its first new office since 1963—the Directorate for Digital Innovation—a seismic shift for the agency that legitimized the importance of technology, including big data and analytics.

According to Deputy Director for Digital Innovation Andrew Hallman, the man tapped by CIA Director John Brennan to run the digital wing, that digital pivot is paying off.

The agency, Hallman said, has significantly improved its “anticipatory intelligence,” using a mesh of sophisticated algorithms and analytics against complex systems to better predict the flow of everything from illicit cash to extremists around the globe. Deep learning and other forms of machine learning can help analysts understand how seemingly disparate data sets might be linked or lend themselves to predicting future events with national security ramifications.

While intelligence analysts have access to CIA’s own classified data stores to sift through, they’re also increasingly turning to open data sets, which Brennan has said this summer have turned into a “tremendous advantage” for the agency.

“We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability some I think as near as three to five days out,” said Hallman, speaking Tuesday at The Next Tech event hosted by Government Executive and Nextgov. The event is a part of the four-day Fedstival, which aims to look at “what’s next” for the federal government in technology and management.

“What we’re trying to do within a unit of my directorate is leverage what we know from social sciences on the development of instability, coups and financial instability, and take what we know from the past six or seven decades and leverage what is becoming the instrumentation of the globe,” Hallman added....MORE
*Schoolboy translation: "I must follow them for I am their leader."