IARPA and the Virtual Long Tail

FACT: This week, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, an arm of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), launched its new unclassified website.  What’s there is initially fairly minimal, but they’ll be adding to the public information posted there regularly.

ANALYSIS:  I spent the week in Orlando, as a Keynote speaker at the IARPA “Incisive Analysis Conference.”  I’ll be writing a little more about the conference in the near future, as I saw some great demo’s and spoke to the principal investigators on many excellent and far-sighted advanced research projects sponsored by IARPA.  It was great to be there and to see so many old friends from the intelligence community, the national labs (PNNL, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Livermore), DoD, and innovative commercial R&D outfits.  Also, as the first IARPA conference since the organization’s launch, it was an opportunity to hear new director Lisa Porter communicate her vision and principles, which she did well and I’ll discuss those soon as well.  (She also kidded me about my efforts to make her a cultural phenomenon, but I blamed it on WIRED magazine.)

Until I get my notes together and determine what is and isn’t appropriate to discuss in the public blogosphere, I will at least post here for your downloading pleasure the slides from my Keynote address.  I was invited by Lisa Porter and Rita Bush to share thoughts on technology and the future of analysis, and since it was pretty open-ended, I wove together some thoughts about bringing greater speed and greater scale to intelligence analytic operations. The title, “Shorter Loop, Longer Tail,” describes the OODA speed aspect and the long-tail framework and their applicability (I argue necessity) to improving traditional analysis.

They also asked me to give some insight into Microsoft Research, which I was more than happy to do, though I made the point at the beginning that I have no sales role whatsoever for the company so I declined to discuss or pitch any current products. By and large the examples I used are all still in the lab, so I was comfortable being an evangelist, not a shill 🙂


I do see great potential in current MSR projects to address areas of technological benefit to analysis — for example, cloud computing and secure mashups, semantic computing, robotics, and something I called the “Virtual Long Tail,” combining geospatial visualization, advanced modeling and simulation in virtual worlds and mirror worlds.

I’d appreciate any feedback or thoughts on the slides, and would be happy to expand on particular research projects by email.

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3 Responses

  1. […] also this recent post on IARPA and another recent post about Dr. Porter […]


  2. […] When I spoke recently at an IARPA conference in Orlando, and was asked to give a glimpse into Microsoft’s vision of R&D trends, one of […]


  3. […] I’m interested in the debate mostly because of the interest in the Long Tail way of thinking in some circles of the intelligence community.  I’ve written about the approach and its relevance to some intelligence issues (see “Tradecraft in the Long Tail” and “IARPA and the Virtual Long Tail“). […]


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