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What's the Next Big Tech Trend? This Federal Agency Thinks It Can Predict the Answer

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A mystic searches her crystal ball for images of the future.

The U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is utilizing machine intelligence to build predictions of which emerging technologies will be popular in the future.


The U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is using machine intelligence to predict what emerging technologies will become popular in the future.

The Foresight and Understanding from Scientific Exposition (FUSE) project uses algorithms to continually scour a massive database of academic journals, patents, and other scientific documentation using various parameters to determine which new technologies may become successful.

The software focuses on analyzing what words are used to describe the latest technology. For example, FUSE determines how mature a given technology is in part by being aware of how frequently it is compared to other technologies on the theory that as a technology becomes more established and well known, the need to explain it via analogy dissipates.

FUSE is maintained by developers from BAE Systems, Raytheon, SRI International, Columbia University, and others, and has an annual budget of $10 million to $15 million. Its results are routinely checked using another IARPA program, Forecasting Science and Technology, which surveys technology experts about the likelihood of FUSE's predictions coming true. These experts have given one of FUSE's most promising results, an organic compound called quinone that has applications in energy storage, a 31-percent chance of being commercialized by 2017.

From The Washington Post
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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