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Intelligence Agencies Turn To Crowdsourcing

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the a-few-more-eyes dept.

The Internet 41

An anonymous reader writes "IARPA — the sister agency to DARPA — is sponsoring researchers to examine crowdsourcing as a method to derive better intelligence predictions. This research will eventually be transitioned to the intelligence community to improve national intelligence estimates. From the article: 'Like Darpa, its better-known counterpart in the Pentagon, Iarpa funds far-out research ideas. However, Iarpa works on ideas that could eventually be used by the likes of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), rather than the military. “The goal that Iarpa has is to eventually transition this to the intelligence community, and use it for something like the National Intelligence Estimates,” says Jenn Carter, who works on the project.'"

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Ob (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41617877)

First crowdsuorced 3d printed psot on the way to the singularitehEleventyOne!!!!

Just Prediction Markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41619359)

I worked for a small company in Huntsville, Alabama 2001 to 2005. During this period we had an SBIR contract to do "Prediction Markets" research and development to do this sort of work. One Sunday I read on /. that the Senator from Idaho (Remember the bathroom incident!) was screaming that we were betting on assassinations etc. Honestly we never would have done so. This was whole cloth fabrication and lies. In fact the project had not gotten out of the lab into public at all! Monday I arrived at work early. I got a phone call from C-Net and their reporter wanted info. I told him he would have to wait and refered him to my boss when he got in. This was 6am Central Time. By 8am when the Boss arrived the phone was ringing offf the hook with people asking questions. I had told the C-Net guy that I could say that this was silly and after all you bet against your own life when you buy life insurance so even the claim was out of line. I was quoted in at least 2000 news storie with that one remark and none of those reporters who acted like they were reporting actually called. They just read C-Net.

By 9:30am the US Government had pulled the funds and stopped work! This was just nuts! Accused by lies and stopped instantly. People need to remember this story and understand the power of a US Senator. Bluntly this project is today is and ours was essentially similar to the Iowa Electronic Markets. It works and is proved technology.

There is a lot of intelligence in such and Google has made their living mining such data sourcing.

First seen on NCIS: LA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617883)

Hmm somehow reminds me of the NCIS: LA episode from tuesday.

Re:First seen on Team America (1)

arisvega (1414195) | about 2 years ago | (#41618697)

"We have no intelligence! I repeat, we have no intelligence!"

Anonymous submitter has been moslty watching... (2)

They'reComingToTakeM (1091657) | about 2 years ago | (#41617887)

This week's NCIS: LA.

Re:Anonymous submitter has been moslty watching... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617979)

I was thinking the the exact same thing. While I watched the episode I thought the idea would be kind of cool. Hopefully this one actually works though.

I predicted this some years ago. (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 2 years ago | (#41617905)

S.I.A.: Search for Intelligent Americans.

Re:I predicted this some years ago. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 2 years ago | (#41618067)

SETI ties its e

re: SETI ties its e (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 2 years ago | (#41620017)

Everything starts with an e.

Re:I predicted this some years ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618897)

Your comment eliminates you from the search...

Re:I predicted this some years ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41619505)

SFGWAFS: Search for geeks who aren't filthy shitrags.

Big Brother Wants Your Ideas On How To Improve (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617927)

Really? Crowdsourcing from an agency that is supposed to keep secrets? I'm really not sure who this is going to be worse for; the agency for unwanted transparency or the citizenry because they are making it cheaper for others to violate their privacy.

Re:Big Brother Wants Your Ideas On How To Improve (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41618189)

You misunderstand the purpose of intelligence. It is to gather information that may be useful to the government and analyze it. Some of that information is secret. Some of it is speculative. Most comes from open sources and the only secret thing about it is what the analysts think its implications are for security.

Futures Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617969)
You can join the study here.
Things I learned were, why Russia and Egypt thought NGOs were using social media to foment revolution and how that might be done. How totoly saturated the newsfeeds are with military propoganda and how thouroughly the feed is know days in advance by intelligence agencies. Realy a fascinating way to see into the security hive mind of the US.
Think AI algorythms modifyied chatbots steering perceptions faster than the news cycle based on emerging soical dynamics, dynamics modified on the fly by chatbots based on feedback loops.

Informants and witnesses: potential bad source (4, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41617985)

It seems to me that a majority of the cases overturned for bad evidence, especially death penalty cases, involve jailhouse informants, infiltrators, citizen reports, eye-witnesses and other HUMINT that may or may not be of value.

When you set the bar to entry very low, such that just about anyone can fire up a computer and report someone else, you're going to see lots of spurious reports which are methods of personal revenge. Just like in the Salem Witch trials, or the Soviet Union, if you create an easy way to identify "bad" people and take their stuff, it will be abused.

It's not surprising that giving police departments the power of seizure (and sale) had a similar effect. Busting rapists takes a second-tier to busting rich drug lords, because it's intelligent to ensure funding for your department first and later take on the non-paying cases.

This isn't to say that crowdsourcing is "wrong" but that we should step carefully when we implement any open-to-the-public reporting program.

Re:Informants and witnesses: potential bad source (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41618403)

or the Soviet Union, if you create an easy way to identify "bad" people and take their stuff, it will be abused.

For this precise reason, in Soviet Union that practice was abandoned since at least WWII. Of course, your friendly propaganda workers forgot to tell you that.

Re:Informants and witnesses: potential bad source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41620853)

... and that's how gimo was populated. turn in your annoying neighbor for being al-quaeda and you get 25000 usd, which goes a long ways in a country where you can feed an entire family on 30 usd/month

Disinformation (2)

Gob Gob (306857) | about 2 years ago | (#41617993)

".... It was also heavily criticized for its National Intelligence Estimate in 2002, which supported claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction...."

So basically an idea to sell to the crowd that it is listening to their feedback. I doubt it. I am pretty sure that any intel agency with a budget is aware of most of the important stuff before we are.

The BBC is touting some tripe as to what the people across the pond are doing? It seems more like a way to soften their failures in light of the agenda to preserve their incursions into citizen monitoring.

Bad headline. (2)

mattashburn (150456) | about 2 years ago | (#41618027)

I wish Slashdot would turn to crowdsourcing for its headlines.

From the article (and article summary), the IC isn't turning to crowdsourcing. An research agency funded a research grant to see if it's feasible for the IC to consider using crowdsourcing methods to improve the analytic cycle.

Re:Bad headline. (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#41625459)

I wish Slashdot would turn to crowdsourcing for its headlines.

They do.

Agency difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618033)

I understand I'm just an AC, but for the benefit of anyone else coming along:

What's the difference between IARPA and In-Q-Tel? Aren't they both searching-for-ideas organizations? Why is IARPA a .gov and In-Q-Tel a .com?

Re:Agency difference? (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 2 years ago | (#41618913)

As far as I know, In-Q-Tel is an investment fund, providing venture capital for strategic companies. IARPA is a research grant agency.

What more intellegence is needed but... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41618097)

...all the few who persist on warfare need to be constrained in some psychopathic mental institute not called government. Don't know about anyone else but I don't approve of my tax dollars being spent the way.

Re:What more intellegence is needed but... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41618103)

So in essence they want us to help them spy on us and we pay them for it? HUH?

Re:What more intellegence is needed but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41619537)

Aw, you're so cute that you or think you or your thoughts matter.

Hey, I'm tired of my tax dollars going to lazy leech scum who fire out babies like it's a competition of some sort, so join the fucking club.

Citizen CIA? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41618139)

Why am I suddenly thinking of "Citizen CIA" by the Dropkick Murphys?

Yes, let's get a bunch of people to help them build something better to spy on us with.

If I wanted to blow something important up... (2)

neurosine (549673) | about 2 years ago | (#41618255)

If I wanted to blow something important up, or take down a web site, I would make absolutely sure that the prosess was untraceable as possible. Average people use the intenet and by and large, they have no plans to perform terrorists acts. If they do, they don't post these plans to their facebook accounts. I would like to just state this now: If I were planning any sort of cyber terrorism, real terrorism, you will not find any markers on my social networking accounts. You could only possibly discover such info by finding and decoding my encrypted data. Since I no longer own a highest level of encryption is Exchange through my iPhone. It's an idiotic waste of resources to search through unencrypted data. You should focus on the things people are trying to hide. Because you can't, you're wasting resources in the effort to scare the norms. They're already afraid. You need to scare the people who send data in a subterfuge fashion by letting them know you can now track them. If I have enough money or authority, I can suck all the data I want from data mining services. No one says anything important there.

Huh? Turns to CrossDressing? (1)

water-and-sewer (612923) | about 2 years ago | (#41618285)

For a second there, I thought the title says they'd turned to cross dressing. That would've been more interesting than this article anyway. Let me know when they try that as a strategy - maybe it will be more effective than crowdsourcing.

An idea with a long history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618383)

The Soviet Union also used 'crowdsourced intelligence gathering' to catch enemies of the state.

Surveillance != Intelligence (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41618409)

Maybe they're finally starting to understand that??? Could it be??

Social Networking Crowdsourcing (1)

tangent3 (449222) | about 2 years ago | (#41618475),19753/ []

Why would they waste money on Crowdsourcing technology?

Re:Social Networking Crowdsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41619159)

Video doesn't load for me. IE switched to compatibility mode after I refreshed the page to try and get the video working. Only the ad for "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" ran then the real video I wanted to see would not load.

Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618515)

Please select one option. The following image likely depicts:

[ ] a terrorist

[ ] a used car salesman

[ ] Osama bin Laden

[ ] other

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

Re:Great Idea (continued) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618605)

Please mark if any of the following is true (you may choose more than one option):

[ ] my neighbor does not have an American flag in front of his house

[ ] my neighbor speaks Spanish or a similar language of unknown origin

[ ] my neighbor drives a Japanese car

[ ] my neighbor does not like Barbecue

[ ] my neighbor does not play Baseball

[ ] my neighbor looks sort of Indian or wears a turban

[ ] my neighbor listens to loud rock music during daytime

[ ] my neighbor does not seem to watch TV

[ ] my neighbor has asked me how to obtain bombs

If you have checked more than one of the above items, your neighbor might be a terrorist. Please contact your local DHS representative immediately!

Sans serif (1)

hardie (716254) | about 2 years ago | (#41618547)

My first thought, not having RFA: Does IARPA start with a capital i or a lower case L?

LARPA might make more sense.


Re: Perversion of incentives and narrow casting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41619739)

You could open up an information market on SIPRnet and do a pretty good job of filtering through the noise of the uninformed. This market would likely suffer from group think, and the same self reinforcing trends responsible for bull and bear markets. A scary thought when a declaration of war is a potential outcome.

The other issue with this would be select government employees of Bradley Manning's persuasion deciding to create the news that they have predicted by using their position to undermine US interests. It's a very James Bond plotline, but there are undercurrents of truth to these ideas. The bottom line is that such an information market gives a direct incentive to the very people best able to prevent 9/11 type events, to look the other way in the hopes of getting paid on skyscraper bingo.

If you can overcome these difficulties(which will not be apparent until they have created problems because of faith in humanity) then you are not much better off from where you started. The information pool is the same as before so no new intel is created, but simply digested and a new incentive exists to rip pages out of library books from the competitive nature of the idea.

So you run two markets simultaneously? One public, one secret? You've expanded your information pool, but considering the disproportionate influence of the media on public opinion, instead of Jim Cramer directing market movements, you have O'Reilly and Olbermann's dueling banjos competing for bets in the current events horse race.

In my opinion, because of the financial impact of significant national security events, the information market already exists on wall-street. Trying to create a sportsbook dedicated to the specifics only muddies the waters, although if I were DARPA, I would be interested in creating one on I2P and the .Onion networks just out of curiosity. Could turn in to Fast and Furious II pretty quick though.

Why not set a just neural network loose on Al Jazeera and that region of the world where experimental groups are so frequently available? Feed it banking records, cell phone positioning logs, and traffic patterns. The closer you can aim the telescope to a known involved player, the more likely a poker tell will be identified, and the more likely this blinder will result in an "aperture problem" where greater threats escape the field of view.

Signal to noise ratio. Narrow perspective vs. a wide net.

Mary Shelley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41620609)

Showed us what "Crowdsourcing" can do when it comes to identifying dangers to society.
Break out the torches and pitchforks boys. We're gonna have us a lynchin'.
Yee Haar

You mean like Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41620675)

Crowdsourcing, as in getting people to voluntarily list all of their contacts, their whereabouts and photographs of all their known associates in an electronic, easily searchable database?

Web 2.0? More like intelligence gathering 2.0.

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 2 years ago | (#41623933)

So.... life imitates art? Or at least thinks about it.

Of course, Vernor Vinge's Vision of amateur intelligence assessments does indeed ignore the old adage that 98% of everything is crap. The internet pushes that number a good deal further. We're talking 5 nines of crap, here. By the time you've waded through all the crap generated by people whose tinfoil hats are too tight, you've spent more money than just paying a real agent.

Still it's a good book. It was available as a free download from [] , posted by Vinge, but it's no longer there.

Crowdsourcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41624301)

So how exactly does one crowdsource?

A better idea: free open source intelligence tools (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#41638975) []
The greatest threat facing the USA is the irony inherent in our current defense posture, like for example planning to use nuclear energy embodied in missiles to fight over oil fields that nuclear energy could replace. This irony arises in part because the USA's current security logic is still based on essentially 19th century and earlier (second millennium) thinking that becomes inappropriate applied to 21st century (third millennium) technological threats and opportunities. That situation represents a systematic intelligence failure of the highest magnitude. There remains time to correct this failure, but time grows short as various exponential trends continue.

To address that pervasive threat from unrecognized irony, it would help to re-envision the CIA as a non-ironic post-scarcity institution. Then the CIA could help others (including in the White House) make more informed decisions to move past this irony as well.

A first step towards that could be for IARPA to support better free software tools for "crowdsourced" public intelligence work involving using a social semantic desktop for sensemaking about open source data and building related open public action plans from that data to make local communities healthier, happier, more intrinsically secure, and also more mutually secure. Secure, healthy, prosperous, and happy local (and virtual) communities then can form together a secure, healthy, prosperous, and happy nation and planet in a non-ironic way. Details on that idea are publicly posted by me here in the form of a Proposal Abstract to the IARPA Incisive Analysis solicitation: "Social Semantic Desktop for Sensemaking on Threats and Opportunities" [] ...

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