Spy Agency to use Data Mining to Spot Emerging Technologies

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's office is launching a new research project aimed at spotting important emerging technologies before they reach their

tipping point.

The agency's idea is to get in on the ground floor of important new technologies to maintain an intelligence advantage over adversaries, according to a press release Tuesday.

Spotting emerging technologies through non-digital means requires a laborious review of scientific and patent literature that's often beyond the manpower capacity of even well-funded government divisions. The goal of the DNI's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity office's Foresight and Understanding from Scientific Exposition, or FUSE, program will be to create automated tools that mine data from those same sources, the agency said.

IARPA has invested heavily in data mining technology, including a recent program to root through news websites, blogs and social media to predict events like revolutions, humanitarian crises, economic collapses and disease outbreaks.

Similar open source pattern assessments have been used in industry and in the NGO world. The Fund for Peace, for example, data mines news websites, policy literature and other sources to develop its annual Failed States Index, which gauges how likely national governments and civil societies are to collapse from domestic turmoil and international pressure.

Also on Tuesday, the Fund for Peace announced a new online tool that will allow development and disaster relief workers to mash up data about risk factors for national or regional conflict and unrest in various nations.

This post has been updated to reflect IARPA's past role in emerging technology detection.