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article imageKeys to the future with no crystal ball required

By Abigail Prendergast     Jul 3, 2011 in Technology
An internet start-up company called Recorded Future has taken a high-end form of analyzing collected data and began applying it in conjunction with the web.
Predictive analytics is the science of acquiring information via such methods like data mining and game theory to use their statistics - both past and present – in order to predict future occurrences. Utilized in such fields as financial services, insurance, telecommunications and travel, this form of analysis has found yet another medium to be applied to: the world wide web. An internet start-up known as Recorded Future is taking on the task of searching the web from top to bottom and thus noticing sequences and patterns.
Recorded Future is a business dedicated to scouring literally tens of thousands of websites, as well as Twitter accounts and blogs with the goal of coming across “invisible links” amidst people, actions and events. Founder and CEO Christopher Ahlberg said in an interview with Reuters that he “knew there was a ton of value in helping people analyze the world. And it struck [Recorded Future] that the most interesting, most compelling place of finding interesting data was the internet. So we said can we build an analytical engine that actually organizes the internet for analysis? And what is more interesting than to try to look forward into the future?”
The video featuring Ahlberg being interviewed by Jen Rogers indicates that he and his Massachusetts-based company not only have the ability to crunch very large amounts of data and use it to accurately predict the future, but that they have accomplished such feats in the past. Including the foresight into the crisis in Yemen a year before the catastrophic events began to unfold. Recorded Future has even earned a solid financial backbone courtesy of Google and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Prior to Recorded Future, Ahlberg and his team had pursued another albeit similar endeavor called Spotfire “that helped people visualize large databases” as he put it. Since then they were able to put together what they refer to as a "temporal analytics engine" according to - Wikipedia - suited to assist people in "see[ing] patterns, trends, outliers [and] clusters," Ahlberg described.
Recorded Future does have a few amount of limits and won't be able to predict the world's next major earthquake, but what the people who make up the company can do is for see so to speak the repercussions of such an event. By investigating geological data, they can find consistencies into what the aftershocks of the resulting catastrophe will entail. Even though the practice of actually predicting earthquakes themselves is more suited toward "the world of geology or geophysics" Ahlberg stated.
His philosophy on his talents is also quite modest as he said "we try to be careful about saying that it is not us who want to make the predictions... we try to avoid that, in fact we try to stay away from the 'what have we predicted recently' question. It's more about empowering our users to do predictions. So we help people whether they're financial analysts, government analysts... product engineers. You know whatever they are who need to understand and analyze future patterns. We try to help them do that."
Recorded Future also assists customers with predictions of volume in the ever-changing and fickle world of the stock market.
The company's slogan is "what we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens." and Christopher Ahlberg ultimately said that "it's not about the answer; it's all about the question." And while there is no "right" question to ask there is a method of chain-linking a series of inquires together in order to obtain a more precise and worthwhile result.
More about Recorded future, predictive analytics, Google, Central intelligence agency