Palantir is a company founded by Peter Thiel — of Paypal and Facebook renown — that has software which absolutely changes the game with intelligence.It’s one of the best programs at coordinating the vast databases accumulated by the U.S. intelligence apparatus. It’s already in use in federal domestic security.
But it’s also caused a massive fight inside the Army intelligence command.
Palantir is one of the first Silicon Valley companies to view the government as a customer rather than an annoyance and — after stepping into a game dominated by top contractors like Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Raytheon — it’s proven controversial in both what it does and if it should be used.
What it does is assemble comprehensive dossiers on objects of interest, collated from the sprawling databases of intelligence agencies.
If that sounds over-broad, it’s intentional.
The databases and dossiers in question are on everything from Afghan villages to crooked bankers. The can pull crime information and collate it with recent debit card purchases.
The software was developed with the idea that had it existed in 2001, 9/11 would have been obvious. Palantir would have been able to identify the pilots as people of interest from countries that harbor terrorists, connecting that with money wired around, and connecting that with one-way airline tickets to create actionable intelligence.
One controversy comes with the civil liberties issues that come with that particular business model.
The other controversy is much less philosophical: The Army intelligence community is full of infighting over this Valley competitor to defence contractor tech.
The Army Intelligence community is split over software. The $2.3 Billion DCGS-A system, developed by the standard crowd of defence contractors, is either panned by some as complicated and slow or defensed by others as the future of military distributed intelligence.
Likewise, the culty following of Palantir’s alternative have been dismissed as on the take from the Silicon Valley firm. That tech has been deployed by data mining Wall Street banks interested in tracking down fraud, and an early investor in the company was the CIA. The Army, however, isn’t sold.
This fight could go on for a while, but Palantir the company will keep at what they’re doing.
As it stands, they’ve dropped immense amounts of money on lobbying, so they probably trust their K-street friends to smooth the government over.
They’re busy on applying the tech to more than finding broken bankers and busting bombers. They’re applying their data mining engine toward health care to cut on fraud, pharmaceuticals law enforcement and more.
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