Google, CIA Back a Startup that Predicts the Future


Google and In-Q-Tel, a non-profit investment firm launched by the CIA in 1999, have both backed Recorded Future, a company that looks for patterns in publicly available data to predict future events.

Recorded Future scans tens of thousands of Twitter accounts, blogs and websites looking for relationships, organizations, actions and incident data. RF then plots that data over time to determine the momentum behind a particular event and when in the future it might happen.

Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel each invested under $10 million in Recorded Future back in 2009, just after the company was founded, according to Wired. Google’s investment was revealed earlier this year, and In-Q-Tel’s was quietly announced a few weeks ago.

Recorded Future has dubbed their service “temporal analytics,” and aims to reveal the “invisible links” between documents that cover the same or similar events, according to a company white paper.

The benefit to Google, which has built its livelihood on collecting and indexing publicly available data for consumer use and advertising, is obvious. The CIA on the other hand has become increasingly interested in analyzing publicly available data for useful intelligence, also known as “open source intelligence,” or “OSINT.”

This is reportedly the first time Google and the U.S. government have both invested in the same company at the same time, and their involvement together is probably more of a coincidence than a direct collaboration, according to FastCompany. However Google may take heat from critics who worry the tech firm is getting too cozy with government agencies.