×

The Violence of Algorithms

Why Big Data Is Only as Smart as Those Who Generate It

Attendees are seen on a black and white FLIR high definition camera monitor displayed at the 7th annual Border Security Expo in Phoenix, Arizona March 12, 2013. Joshua Lott / Reuters

In December 2010, I attended a training session for an intelligence analytics software program called Palantir. Co-founded by Peter Thiel, a techno-libertarian Silicon Valley billionaire, Palantir is a slick tool kit of data visualization and analytics capabilities marketed to and widely used by the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and other U.S. national security and policing institutions.

The training session took place in Tyson's Corner, in Washington, D.C., at a Google-esque office space complete with scooters, a foosball table, and a kitchen stocked with energy drinks. I was taking the course to explore the potential uses of the tool for academic research.

The dashboard for the New York Police Department's 'Domain Awareness System' (DAS) is seen in New York May 29, 2013.
The dashboard for the New York Police Department's 'Domain Awareness System' (DAS) is seen in New York May 29, 2013. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
We spent the day conducting a demonstration investigation. We were first given a range of data sets and, one by one, we uploaded them into Palantir. Each data set showed us a new analytic capability of the program: thousands of daily intelligence reports were disaggregated to their

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue