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Information awareness

By Hugh McKellar, KMWorld executive editor

Turn to page 16 and read IDC analysts Alex Motsenigos and Jocelyn Young's report on knowledge management and government. They provide a nice assessment of the market for vendors, as well as an instructive overview of the topic for anyone who reads this magazine. Given the events of 9/11 and other terror-related issues, it's not the least bit surprising that they predict an increase in spending on KM-related programs on, especially, the federal level.

What is surprising, though, is that the government has begun the process of developing what has to be the most ambitious KM initiative ever: Total Information Awareness (TIA). The program falls under the Information Awareness Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The office says the mission of this counter-terrorism initiative is to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototypes, and closed-loop information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness useful for preemption, national security warning and national security decision making."

The TIA plan calls for employing such technologies as:

  • collaboration and sharing over TCP/IP networks across agency boundaries;;

  • large, distributed repositories with dynamic schemas;;

  • biometric signatures of humans;;

  • real-time learning, pattern matching and anomalous pattern detection; ;

  • entity extraction from natural language text;;

  • foreign language machine translation;;

  • event prediction and capability development model building engines; ;

  • storytelling, change detection and truth maintenance; and;

  • biologically inspired algorithms for agent control.;

The office was formed in February amid very little fanfare and received little attention when it started awarding contracts in August. The office is headed by John Poindexter, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology, was a senior VP for Syntek Technologies and co-founder of TP Systems. Poindexter was also a national security adviser in the Reagan Administration. Because of his role in the Iran Contra affair, he was convicted in 1990 on five felony counts that included making false statements and destroying and removing records. His conviction was later reversed because of an immunized testimony issue.

This one will be interesting to watch

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