To empower citizens by providing a single, comprehensive, easy-to-use
repository of information on individuals, organizations, and corporations
related to the government of the United States of America.
To allow citizens to submit intelligence about government-related
issues, while maintaining their anonymity. To allow members of the
government a chance to participate in the process.
(1) Development of revolutionary technology for ultra-large all-source
information repositories and associated privacy protection technologies.
(2) Development of collaboration, automation, and cognitive aids technologies
that allow humans and machines to think together about complicated and complex
problems more efficiently and effectively.
(3) Development and implementation of an end-to-end, closed-loop prototype
system to aid in countering terrorism through prevention by integrating technology
and components from existing DARPA programs such as: Genoa, EELD (Evidence
Extraction and Link Discovery), WAE (Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment),
TIDES (Translingual Information Detection, Extraction and Summarization),
HID (Human Identification at Distance), Bio-Surveillance; as well as programs
resulting from the first two areas of this BAA and other programs."
"Repository Issues: The National Security Community has a need for very
large scale databases covering comprehensive information about all potential
terrorist threats; those who are planning, supporting or preparing to carry
out such events; potential plans; and potential targets. In the context
of this BAA, the term "database" is intended to convey a new kind of extremely
large, omni-media, virtually-centralized, and semantically-rich information
repository that is not constrained by today's limited commercial database
products -- we use "database" for lack of a more descriptive term. DARPA
seeks innovative technologies needed to architect, populate, and exploit
such a database for combating terrorism. Key metrics include the amount of
total information that is potentially covered, the utility of its data structures
for data entry and use by humans and machines in searching and browsing,
data integration, and capability to automatically populate, and the completeness,
correctness, and timeliness of the information when used for predictive analysis
and modeling in exploiting the information in these repositories. It is
anticipated this will require revolutionary new technology."
"The database envisioned is of an unprecedented scale, will most likely
be distributed, must be capable of being continuously updated, and must
support both autonomous and semi-automated analysis. The latter requirement
implies that the representation used must, to the greatest extent possible,
be interpretable by both algorithms and human analysts. The database must
support change detection and be able to execute automated procedures implied
by new information. Because of expected growth and adaptation needs, the
effective schema must be adaptable by the user so that as new sources of
information, analytical methods, or representations arise, the representation
of data may be re-structured without great cost. If distributed, the database
may require new search methods to answer complex, less than specific queries
across physical implementations and new automated methods for maintaining
consistency. The reduced signature and misinformation introduced by terrorists
who are attempting to hide and deceive imply that uncertainty must be represented
in some way. To protect the privacy of individuals not affiliated with terrorism,
DARPA seeks technologies for controlling automated search and exploitation
algorithms and for purging data structures appropriately. Business rules
are required to enforce security policy and views appropriate for the viewer's
"The potential sources of information about possible terrorist activities
will include extensive existing databases. Innovative technologies are sought
for treating these databases as a virtual, centralized, grand database.
This will require technologies for automatically determining schemas, access
methods and controls, and translation of complex English language queries
into the appropriate language for the relevant databases."
"DARPA currently has on-going research programs aimed at language translation,
information extraction from text, and multi-modal biometric technologies.
These component technologies will be used to feed the Information Awareness
database but must be augmented by other technologies and new sources of
information to dramatically increase the coverage of counter-terrorism information.
These other technologies include but are not limited to innovative new methods
of database integration, structured information authoring, and exploitation
of integrated data streams. Non-traditional methods of identifying and monitoring
terrorist activity are anticipated. Populating a database with information
derived from masked or deceptive behavior by an adversary is a challenging
technical problem. DARPA invites new ideas for novel information sources
and methods that amplify terrorist signatures and enable appropriate response."
"Collaboration, Automation And Cognitive Aids Issues: DARPA will be developing
technology to support collaborative work by cross-organizational teams of
intelligence and policy analysts and operators as they develop models and
simulations to aid in understanding the terrorist threat, generate a complete
set of plausible alternative futures, and produce options to deal proactively
with these threats and scenarios. The challenges such teams face include
the need to work faster, overcome human cognitive limitations and biases
when attempting to understand complicated, complex, and uncertain situations,
deal with deliberate deception, create explanations and options that are
persuasive for the decision maker, break down the information and procedural
stovepipes that existing organizations have built, harness diversity as a
tool to deal with complexity and uncertainty, and automate that which can
effectively be accomplished by machines so that people have more time for
analysis and thinking. Emphasis needs to be placed on ease of use, adaptation
to the user who is often not a scientist or engineer, and implicit encouragement
to use the tools to make the users' tasks easier."
"DARPA is seeking innovative technology for automating some of the team
processes; augmenting the human intellect via tools that assist teams thinking
together, tools that do some of the thinking for people, and tools that
support human/machine collaboration in the cognitive domain; and for providing
a rich environment for collaboration across existing hierarchical organizations
while maintaining the necessary accountability and control. DARPA envisions
that the human teams using its system will be drawn from multiple organizations
spanning state, local, and federal government. Thus, there will be the need
to permit collaboration across organizational-boundaries while providing
control and accountability and connection back to the central systems of
each participating organization. Technology will be required to support the
entire life cycle of such teams. Key challenges include knowledge management/corporate
memory, declarative policy generation and context-based enforcement, business
rules and self-governance, and planning and monitoring team processes."
"The goals for automation technology include speeding the front-end processes
of gathering, filtering, and organizing information and assimilating its
content without having to read all of it. On the back-end of the process,
technology is needed to automate or semi-automate the generation of efficient
and persuasive explanations, and to maintain consistency within a large,
distributed multi-media knowledge base. Technology is also required to make
the tools and the collaborative environment itself more efficiently used
by humans by making it aware of user context and preferences and smart and
adaptive to optimize the user experience. DARPA seeks technology to aid the
human intellect as teams collaborate to build models of existing threats,
generate a rich set of threat scenarios, perform formal risk analysis, and
develop options to counter them. These tools should provide structure to
the collaborative cognitive work, and externalize it so that it can be examined,
critiqued, used to generate narrative and multi-media explanations, and archived
Back to Cringely: How, exactly, are they going to automate the protection
of our privacy?
No sane person is in favor of terrorism or lawlessness. But at a time
when intelligence agencies are under fire for being not very intelligent,
when our leaders are sometimes in too big a hurry to cast blame and take credit,
we are building huge information gathering systems that we can't completely
control, we can't completely validate, that can be turned against us by our
enemies, and that can ultimately be used to justify, well, anything.
It might be a good idea to think twice about this before we shoot ourselves
in the foot.