Palantir

By Deane Barker on January 5, 2012

Palantir, the War on Terror’s Secret Weapon: I love this article about Palantir, software that government/military is using to coordinate anti-terrorism operations (and lots of other stuff, no-doubt).  Based on the description, it’s essentially every awesome movie-style data interface come to life.

In Afghanistan, U.S. Special Operations Forces use Palantir to plan assaults. They type a village’s name into the system and a map of the village appears, detailing the locations of all reported shooting skirmishes and IED, or improvised explosive device, incidents. Using the timeline function, the soldiers can see where the most recent attacks originated and plot their takeover of the village […]  “It’s the combination of every analytical tool you could ever dream of,” Reading says. “You will know every single bad guy in your area.”

[…] Using Palantir technology, the FBI can now instantly compile thorough dossiers on U.S. citizens, tying together surveillance video outside a drugstore with credit-card transactions, cell-phone call records, e-mails, airplane travel records, and Web search information.

[…] “I don’t think Palantir the firm is evil,” he says. “I think their clients could be using it for evil things.”

This is hardcore gee-whiz stuff, but I’m sure it’s also the type of thing that keeps privacy advocates up at night.  The potential for abuse here is huge, obviously.

This reminds me similar software from a couple of decades ago called Inslaw.  The story behind what that software did and what became of it is amazing.

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Comments

  1. “A Palantir is a dangerous tool…They are not all accounted for, the lost Seeing-stones. We do not know who else may be watching!”

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