Big Data Help CIA Predict Social Unrest 5 Days Before It Begins

Earlier this year, the CIA helm started up a new arm of the agency, dubbed the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which aims to embed the newest tech into the agency's data gathering.

The DDI will also assist the United States in bolstering its cyber defense.

Deputy Director for Digital Innovation, Andrew Hallman, explains that the new wing of the agency is helping the CIA expand its "anticipatory intelligence."

Hallman notes that the improvements are good enough that they can predict overseas societal instability and social unrest by three to five days before the events actually occur.

Should you wonder what "anticipatory intelligence" is, read on.

The term encompasses a mixture of highly sophisticated analytics and algorithms able to forecast the flow of people and products, from extremists to illicit goods.

By tapping into the potential of deep and machine learning, data that seem unrelated can be connected and patterns start to emerge. Analysts then scrutinize these sequences and can anticipate national security threats.

Hallman points out that during his time in office, his unit will mash up relevant social sciences information "on the development of instability, coups and financial instability" and use it to predict upcoming events.

"We take what we know from the past six or seven decades and leverage what is becoming the instrumentation of the globe," the helm of DDI notes.

The CIA arm reaches beyond the classified information that is available exclusively to the spying agencies. The DDI has been using open source data sets, which allow experts to overlap public and agency information in order to have a better perspective on volatile situations.

CIA leader John Brennan commended the significant advantage the agency will get from integrating the different data sets, both public and top secret.

It is no secret that the agency has its eyes (read: algorithms) on social media in what is probably the biggest surveillance program in history. By using the latest tech in data parsing, the agents are developing tools that can give a heads up when worldwide riots and social decay will happen.

CIA's strategy for the future is to train field agents who are agile and knowledgeable enough to make the most out of digital developments. Cloud computing is one other way in which the CIA hopes to gain an edge over global threats and, why not, other intelligence agencies.

No official statement exists pertaining to the accuracy of the forecast, but we might need another Snowden to let the public in on the intricate details of national security operations.

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