When George Orwell wrote 1984, he chose that year for the title because the book would be published in 1948 and the transposition was meant to give people pause to think, to realise that it was a year they could conceive occurring in their lifetime. I was around in 1984 in college studying Art and Philosophy at the time and recall not quite the press of Y2K or the Mayan Prophecy, but still, it was being talked about. Many people would say that “Big Brother” has come about in a much more subtle fashion with the prevalence of the Internet, and done with the complicity of the very people who feared it.
I am going to presume most, if not all of us were around in 2001. After the whole Y2K thing passed, a few people remembered the Arthur C. Clarke story that spawned the Stanley Kubrick film and the calm, quiet, polite yet implacable menace which oozed out of HAL.
We have done stories here about conspiracy theories. We’ve done stories here about Secret Societies and the power behind the powerful. We’ve done stories here about time travel and aliens controlling humanity without our consent. And they are, in many eyes, just stories. Bits of truth here and there, enough to sound plausible but never enough to gain true credibility. Little of it seems a matter for concern except to the conspiracy minded. I am not one, though that does not mean I go around with my eyes closed.
This is an eye opener.
What I have recently learned makes my orifices clench. Sounding like the plot to a Science Fiction thriller (oh, wait, it is one, more than one) there is a new service being offered on the internet to corporations and governments, or anyone with the money, called Recorded Future, the bastard child of Google and the CIA.
And this is what they do:
What is the Recorded Future API?
Recorded Future offers developers access to our index for large scale analysis of online media flow that spans blogs and Twitter to mainstream news to government filings. This content has broad applications across many domains, including monitoring dashboards for corporations, future technology research for government, and algorithmic trading across asset classes.
Why is this cool?
If you’re developing a custom application, or have analysis tools and need to integrate news analytics like sentiment, online momentum, upcoming future events, or are in search of novel signals for predictive models- this API is for you. Beyond simply monitoring, collecting and organizing information in social media and news, Recorded Future provides the unique ability to separate data on past trends, from that of future expectations. Want to know what people think about the next iPhone? Looking for all companies with plans to expand to Saudi Arabia next year? Want a list of events expected to occur next week? We can help.
What are the specs?
The Recorded Future API is a web service that responds to JSON requests with JSON results. You can checkout the complete Recorded Future API documentation here. To access the API you’ll need to purchase a token. A token allows one concurrent connection to our system. There are two levels of API access: Modeling and Real Time. The Modeling level is less expensive, but only includes data that is more than 7 days old. The Real Time level includes data updated every few minutes.
Here is Recorded Future’s version of what they do, as presented by harmless cartoon characters
But there are questions being asked
Does anyone remember “Minority Report?”
Or “The Adjustment Bureau?”
I am not claiming Recorded Future is proposing itself as a service to predict criminal activity or intent, or to control people’s lives but how big a leap is it from here to there, really? Living in Washington State (I presume any shadow governments following this already know that) and for ease of travel to Canada without the full cost of a Passport I have gotten what is referred to as an Enhanced Driver’s license. It has a chip embedded in it, just like many credit cards, with how much of my personal data? That is easily read by a simple hand held electronic device. Just like your credit cards? And your pets? Bluetooth Ipad, Kindle, laptop, smart-phone, the computer in your car (many of which are now blue tooth enabled?) How often do you go through a toll booth? Cross a national border? Enter a library or government building? How many cities are going Wi-Fi? Did you know the police can get permission to ping the phone of a suspect in order to track them?
Am I being paranoid? Or not being paranoid enough? They follow blogs, are they reading this? Guess I will find out. I guess we all will, but only after they know.