CIA, Google Invest Future Of Web Monitoring

Recorded Future, a Boston-area startup, measures online momentum, sentiment combined with visualization tools to show patterns and links between information and predictions.
The investment arm of the CIA and Google have provided funding for a startup that claims it can predict the future with information it collects from the web according to several news outlets, including Wired and ABC News.

Recorded Future has technology it calls "the world's first temporal analysis engine," which, from the description on its website, sounds like a combination between an analytic search engine on steroids and the Delphic Oracle.

The technology works by searching thousands of websites -- including blogs, online news sources, government websites, financial databases and social-networking sites -- and gathering information. Once collected, the engine extracts the who, what, when, where and why of each item. This includes data such as entities, events and the time events occur.

The engine then measures momentum and sentiment for each item indexed to come up with a reasonable prediction for what might happen next. This process is meant to allow people to explore the past, present and predicted future of almost anything. The product also provides visualization tools to show patterns and links between information and predictions, according to the company.

In a blog post, company founders said the technology aims to bring more of a real-time element into the current analytics field.

"Recorded Future brings a paradigm shift to analytics, by focusing on time as an essential aspect of the analyst's work," according to the post blog post. "Sophisticated linguistic and statistical analyses combined with innovative user interfaces and a powerful API brings new opportunities to both human analysts and developers of 3rd party analytics systems."

Intelligence analysis, national security and defense agencies are among early adopters of the technology, which likely explains the CIA's backing.

Investment and trading strategy firms; marketing, brand awareness and monitoring groups; and public relations, crisis management and advertising corporations also are using Recorded Future, according to the company's website.

Headquartered in the Boston area, Recorded Future currently has about 15 employees worldwide that have distinguished pedigrees, according to its website. It counts computer scientists, statisticians and linguists -- some of them Ph.D.s and Fulbright winners -- among its staff.