Can Twitter and blogs predict the future? At the Pentagon they say - maybe

Original author: Dawn Lim
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The U.S. Department of Defense is set to create new computing tools that, by analyzing arrays of unstructured text, blogs, and tweets, will help military analysts anticipate the future and make decisions faster.

This study is part of the US Naval Research (ONR) program, From Data to Decision Making , a series of initiatives lasting from three to ten years to analyze an ever-increasing amount of information that threatens to simply flood decision-makers, the contract indicates . The goal is to create an open source system that can combine various tools that collect, process, and identify relationships between data sets.

In the announcement of the program, ONR calls for the creation of computer algorithms for predicting events, combining various forms of information, and revealing the context of unfolding events. Management is going to spend $ 500,000 in each year of work. “The Ministry of Defense is aware of the vital role of text analysis in the possibility of timely information and accurate awareness in the face of limited time and unpredictable, difficult circumstances,” the tender reads.

Simply put, the Department of Defense is looking for a way to predict the future by monitoring Twitter, blogs, and news, and determining the “frequency of connections between nodes or clusters.” As networks become larger and more complex, researchers find it difficult to track group behavior. ONR also wants researchers to discover networks that may be hidden within other networks, and how information and money circulate in the community.

Also, officials want to create tools that combine and compare multiple, incomplete arrays of data on agriculture, weather, topography, demography and economic indicators to identify patterns. ONR is particularly interested in combining textual information to provide a more detailed picture of how groups such as terrorists act by extrapolating “stated values ​​and beliefs that influence behavior”, “community structures and social networking clusters” and the level of “emotional support expressed to specific topics or personalities. ”

Management is also interested in creating technology for machine translation and processing - the translation of physical symbols or sounds into one machine language.

The proposals are valid until January 15, and financing decisions will be made until February 15, according to the contract.

Government agencies have long supported scientists engaged in improving the technology of screening and intelligence in open sources of information. The CIA, in connection with the increasing need for the systematic collection and analysis of such information, in 2005 to support intelligence services created the National Intelligence Open Source Center (OSC) in the suburbs of Northern Virginia.

The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Pentagon research unit, looked for ideas for research programs in 2012 that predicted “cyber-terrorist attacks” by identifying how criminal groups and hackers interact each other on the internet.

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