Secret narrative science
Remember when I was looking for updated information on Narrative Science, the company that is working to automate the production of news articles?
Well, Narrative Science has hit the news again, but not because of anything that the company itself has done.
Companies don’t only make money by generating revenue. Companies also make money by getting investments, either privately (for example, when FriendFeed was acquired by Facebook) or publicly (when Facebook itself went public).
And Narrative Science has just received an investment of an unknown amount. Yeah, the funding amount is secret, so we don’t know if Narrative Science raised one dollar or one billion dollars. But we do know who made the investment – In-Q-Tel.
Now most of us are unfamiliar with In-Q-Tel, but the company is an active investor. And its investments are made on behalf of another entity – an entity which, when I lived in the Washington DC area in the early 1970s, was identified on local maps as the “Bureau of Public Roads.” Even today I have a conditioned reluctance to name the entity, but I will reveal the entity’s initials – CIA.
The investment makes sense to Peter Kafka of All Things D:
Those guys have a lot of data, and it would probably be helpful to have some of that sorted into sentences and summaries. It would be great to show you an example of that work, but obviously that’s not gonna happen.
Perhaps we will see some of this. The CIA – OK, I guess I can say “Central Intelligence Agency” in the 21st century – has become a lot more open about certain things. Imagine, for example, a version of The World Factbook that is edited in real-time.
Now imagine someone using Internet pages to introduce spurious information into a Narrative Science-updated World Factbook. For example, if I were a hacker and successfully spoofed https://www.gov.uk/, I could arrange things so that the CIA’s World Factbook would authoritatively report that Scary Spice had been named Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
This could be interesting.
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