The CIA’s In-Q-Tel is Investing in Startups That Can Predict the Future
We tend to unknowingly or neglectfully expose a lot of our personal data on the internet and often times it’s not our fault. Social networks and digital applications, marketed as a utility or source of entertainment, can also be used for mining data and giving corporations incredible insight into our personal lives. That data is then analyzed and stored to develop a profile that decides the best way to target us with advertisements.
That’s not so surprising anymore; we’ve become keen on recognizing these marketing techniques and come to expect them. It becomes unsettling however when the CIA has a role in this game and seeds start-ups to develop technology to mine data for its clandestine agenda. This is also nothing new, but not many people are aware of the CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, which has backed some of Silicon Valley’s most prevalent advents, influencing widely used Google apps and possibly even Facebook. So, what is In-Q-Tel, and should we be concerned?
In-Q-Tel’s Keyhole Becomes Google Earth
In the early 2000s, the development of Google Earth made geospatial technology an exciting prospect in the tech world. Unsurprisingly, this technology was controversial and banned in some countries due to national security concerns and privacy issues. What is also unsurprising is that it was originally developed by a startup that was funded by In-Q-Tel, called Keyhole EarthViewer. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, was cultivated out of this new technology as a parallel branch to the NSA that focuses on exploiting and analyzing geographical information and activity.
In-Q-Tel’s budget started off at $28 million in its first year and has been somewhat hazy ever since. After Sept. 11, 2001, the government’s black budget for intelligence agencies increased dramatically, with the CIA now receiving about $14.7 billion. In-Q-Tel can access this money without having to fully disclose its spending. It also doesn’t participate in requests for comments or interviews with the media.
In-Q-Tel, since its inception in 1999, continues to fund start-ups in the tech world ranging from skincare lines to novel drone technology, but much of its investment goes into data mining. These tools collect, store, and analyze data to create profiles on individuals, groups, and events that are of interest to the CIA, law enforcement, and corporations. Often these programs mine platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to monitor activist protests, influential “decision-makers,” and trends. One day these algorithms surveil our personal data and activity, and the next they’re being sold to corporations for advertising.
Who is in In-Q-Tel?
In-Q-Tel is headed by Gilman Louie, a former video game designer, turned venture capitalist. Some have made note of Louie’s connections with board members of the venture capital firms that gave Facebook the funding to become the social media juggernaut it is today. One connection is with James Breyer, a partner and board member of Accel, the company that invested $12.7 million in Facebook’s Series A funding.
Louie and Breyer sat together on the board of military defense contractors, BBN, known for essentially helping to create email and the internet. Facebook’s second round of funding came from a company called Greylock Venture Capital, headed by Howard Cox, who also sat on In-Q-Tel’s board.
Another interesting connection that has been made with Louie is his role with Niantic, the mobile gaming company that created Pokèmon Go. Louie was added to the board of the company for his strategic insight in both gaming and venture capital investment. The augmented reality technology for Pokèmon Go was also a product of Keyhole, Inc., the In-Q-Tel funded start-up that became Google Earth.
Users of the game are required to allow the program to access personal data ranging from geolocation services to camera access, and it even has the capability to remotely read, modify, or delete files on a user’s phone. The program can track where users are, where they’ve been, what they look like, and a multitude of personal information that could be used to create profiles and spy on individuals. This begs the question; is this a beta test for a larger CIA-sponsored program?
What is In-Q-Tel Investing In?
While this may seem overly paranoid, it falls in line with other In-Q-Tel tech investments. Dataminr is one such blatantly named startup that uses Twitter data to spot trends that can be used to benefit law enforcement, ostensibly monitoring for terrorist threats. But what else can this data be used for and what are the ethical concerns with the profiles that are being built with this information?
Edward Snowden’s exposé showed the NSA’ ability to use metadata to paint a very intrusive image of innocent civilians. This technology could be easily manipulated with a deluge of false tweets sent to intentionally cause a panic, considering the tweets aren’t verified. An attack of this nature could be carried out by hackers or even the government itself in a false flag operation.
Other companies In-Q-Tel has invested in that monitor and analyze social media data include GeoFeedia, Pathar, and TransVoyant. But one of the more invasive projects, Palantir, is as unsettling as its name. Palantír, in Lord of the Rings, is an omniscient crystal ball that can see anything, anywhere, including into the past and future.
The company was created by Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and former board member of Facebook with other In-Q-Tel venture capitalists. Palantir created a system, much like the premise of the movie Minority Report, where law enforcement can predict crime before it happens. It has been touted for its success in military applications and is being implemented in law enforcement with “predictive policing” efforts. The prescience of Tom Cruise’s dystopian police state is uncanny. Some believe this to already be a factor in the recent disparities in police shootings and as an instigating force in growing police militarization.
In-Q-Tel’s business model made it highly successful in a number of ways. It has essentially become an indicator of success in the venture capital world, with every $1 of investment from In-Q-Tel drawing more than $9 from private investors. So, if In-Q-Tel decides it likes a startup’s idea, its investment will draw significant attention from other venture capitalists, letting the private sector fund technology that benefits the CIA’s clandestine programs.
In-Q-Tel also only answers to the CIA instead of traditional investors, despite the CIA’s funding coming from taxpayer dollars. It is considered a non-profit that is unconcerned with monetary earnings, but rather tech capital – again easy to do when you don’t have to answer to investors. A contract with the CIA is now like gold for tech startups looking for seed funding, given the success, influence, and amount of money In-Q-Tel has, but where should we draw the line for government access and transparency? If this technology is being used to spy on us, perpetuate the militarization of law enforcement, and potentially create a more aggressive police state, shouldn’t we have a say in these things?
Black Knight 13,000-Year-Old Satellite Mystery Decoded?
Space debris or a 13,000-year-old satellite? A mysterious object, dubbed the Black Knight, orbits the Earth, puzzling scientists of the past and present. Some, like inventor and scientist Nicola Tesla, claim to have received radio signals from the orbiting figure. Astronaut Gordon Cooper was adamant that, in 1963, he saw it from his own spacecraft. The documented history of the existence of the Black Knight continues to mystify scientists.
Nicola Tesla and the Black Knight
Although Nicola Tesla’s inventions changed the way people live today, back in 1899 his peers viewed him as eccentric and somewhat of a mad scientist. When he built a laboratory and a 210-foot tower in Colorado Springs in order to experiment with electricity and record electromagnetic disturbances, his colleagues did not take him seriously. When he reported that he had received signals from extraterrestrials, the newspapers of the day mocked him.
Despite the ridicule of his peers, Tesla was excited about the signals he received, and came to fervently believe that he “had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another. A purpose was behind these electrical signals.” Researchers now believe the signals Tesla received likely came from the Black Knight.
Modern History of the Black Knight
Although there were some reports in the 1930s of astronomers around the world receiving strange radio signals, in 1954, the St. Louis Dispatch ran an article titled, “Artificial Satellites Are Circling Earth, Writer on ‘Saucers’ says.” The referenced writer was Donald E. Keyhoe who wrote about unidentified satellites orbiting the Earth. He claimed the government knew about them and was trying to discover their source.
Keyhoe later wrote a book, “Aliens in Space: The Real Story of Unidentified Flying Objects,” where he documented his knowledge of UFOs including what he knew about the Black Knight. Gaia’s Deep Space series discusses some of his work.
Scientists and astronomers reported seeing the satellite as it orbited the Earth. In 1953, a professor at the University of New Mexico saw a “blip of unknown origin.” In 1957, Dr. Luis Corralos, with the Communications Ministry in Venezuela, was taking pictures of the Russian satellite, Sputnik II, as it passed over Caracas. The Black Knight showed up in his photographs. This was the first known actual picture of the object.
In 1960, an American satellite showed the object following Sputnik 1, which was still orbiting the Earth. The UFO was in a polar orbit. At that time, neither the U.S. nor the Russians were capable of putting a satellite in that type of orbit. The object also appeared to be much larger and heavier than anything either country could launch.
In the 1960s, TIME magazine, as well as other news publications, reported on the Black Knight and referred to it as possibly having an extraterrestrial origin. Some North American Ham operators had detected signals coming from the object. Some even reported receiving coded messages. On September 3, 1960, the Black Knight showed up on radar for the first time. People on the ground viewing it with the naked eye could see it for about two weeks. The government reportedly established a committee to investigate the object, but no report was ever made public.
In 1963, Astronaut Gordon Cooper was orbiting the Earth when he said he saw a “glowing green light” ahead of his space capsule. At the same time, a tracking station in Australia, over which the spacecraft was orbiting at the time, reported seeing the object on radar. The evening news reported on Cooper’s sighting, and for the first time, the object was referred to as the Black Knight Satellite. The name stuck, but Cooper’s report did not.
NASA soon debunked Cooper’s UFO sighting, claiming there had been a malfunction in the space capsule which caused gases to emit what appeared glowing light. The result, said NASA, was that Cooper had a hallucination and did not see a UFO. Cooper later confirmed that he had definitely seen a UFO on his 1963 space orbit and that NASA had prohibited him from discussing it. Until his death in 2004, Cooper claimed that he did not have a hallucination in the spacecraft, but saw a UFO. He was very vocal during his lifetime about his belief in the existence of extraterrestrial life and his frustration that the U.S. government continued to cover up evidence of alien contacts.
In 1998, astronauts on the space shuttle Endeavor, on their way to the International Space Station (ISS), took photographs of the object. NASA again disagreed with the astronauts and claimed what they saw and photographed was not a UFO, but instead, just space debris, most likely a thermal blanket.
Black Knight Communications with Human Beings
Influential people and highly respected authors, movie producers, and directors and members of secret societies have claimed to receive communications from alien beings including signals from the Black Knight. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek television series and movies, is almost a household name. In 1973 to 1974 he was reportedly associated with a secret society called “The Council of Nine.” The Nine, in brief, were a group of prominent people who believed that the channeled messages received by their leaders were actually messages sent by extraterrestrials. Roddenberry allegedly based his Star Trek episodes on what he learned from the Nine, including the giveaway title he chose for a post Star Trek series called, “Deep Space Nine.” Many believed the source of the channeled messages was the Black Knight.
Author Philip K. Dick claimed to have communications with alien beings. The way he described his first encounter with the being in February 1974 is consistent with some of the captured coded messages from the Black Knight. Dick’s VALIS trilogy was, according to those who knew him or researched him, really a fictionalized autobiography and not science fiction. It pulled from his communications with an alien entity, which were likely from the Black Knight.
Is the Black Knight still with us?
Two separate people in different parts of the country who were each photographing the Blue Moon on July 31, 2015, captured what they believe is the Black Knight. The object was once again passing by the ISS. Is the Black Knight an ancient alien vessel? Could it be a satellite from somewhere in deep space that is trying to communicate with humans on earth? Or, is simply a piece of space debris left behind by spacecraft made by Earthlings? You decide.
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Don’t miss Deep Space on Gaia for more on the long and hidden history of Earth’s secret space program.