Recorded Future Attempts To Unlock The Predictive Power Of The Web_Featured_, Technology Sunday, July 15th, 2012
by Peter Murray July 14th, 2012
The strategy behind Recorded Future’s techno-soothsaying is different from software that can pinpoint with certain probability the location of a future crime, for example. Rather than read the “signs” and make an educated guess, their algorithm sifts through the multitude of online sources of world events – news sites, blogs, social media – and extracts concrete information about who will do what when, and what will happen where.
The information is intended to serve a practical purpose. You’re a busy CEO with a company to run and don’t have the time to sift through 70,000 web sources. Recorded Future will do the legwork for you. And their system can be configured to detect the reported activity of specific companies, fine-tuned with keywords, in the coming days, months, or years.
Their 70,000 sources on the web range from big media and government web sites to individual blogs, and social media such as selected Twitter streams. From those sources they’ve built a database of millions of entities and events and more than 2 billion facts that they think people will want to know.
Similar to Google Knowledge, Recorded Future takes unstructured text and puts it in context of the real world, drawing relationships between unassociated text. Their system would link Albert Einstein with Ulm, Germany, his birthplace, and relativity theory, for example. Temporal analysis puts times to events, such as an absolute “September 11, 2001,” or a relative “two weeks from now.” If a news text read, “Barack Obama said yesterday that Hillary Clinton will be traveling to Haiti next week,” Recorded Future treats the statement as two events: a quotation event in the past and a travel event to occur in the future. It then maps those events to actual calendar dates, turning imprecise text into a precise timeline. It even compensates for cultural ambiguities, such as the “first day of the week” being Sunday in the US, but Monday according to the International Organization for Standardization.