Aug 032010
 

Recorded Future

There’s no doubt that most people would like to know the future.

It’s a desire that has kept palm readers, astrologists and tealeaf readers in business for hundreds of years. Now there’s a company called Recorded Future that says it can use information scoured from tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to predict the future. And before you laugh, it’s got some heavyweight backers including Google and the CIA.

Recorded Future uses the term “temporal analytics” to describe what it does. It extracts information including entities, events and the time that these events occur from the thousands of news publications, blogs, niche sources, trade publications, government web sites, financial databases and more that the company continually scans. Using this information the company says it is able to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents, not only in the past and present, but also in the future.

Google with a difference

In a white paper describing the underlying philosophy and overall system architecture of Recorded Future the company says that a comparison with traditional search engines is inevitable, but that search is only one aspect of its temporal analytics engine.

Unlike the PageRank algorithm that is at the heart of Google’s search engine that uses explicit link analysis by analyzing links between pages and ranking pages based on the number of links pointing to it as well as the rank of the pages pointing to it, Recorded Future adds implicit link analysis to its system. It does this by separating the documents and their content from what they talk about – the “canonical” entities and events – so it is able to look at the “invisible links” between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.

A ranking measure called momentum – based on the number of documents referring to these canonical entities and events while taking into account the credibility of the documents (or document sources) along with several other factors – is the company’s aggregate judgment of how interesting or important an entity or event is at a certain point in time. This momentum measure will change over time.

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