Thinking Tech

Recorded Future promises to make sense out of predictions, forecasts

Recorded Future promises to make sense out of predictions, forecasts

Posting in Science

Homogenize all the world's predictions and forecasts and look deep into the future. That's just what new web search tool Recorded Future is trying to do.

Want to know when the next natural disaster will happen? Or at least when the next few are predicted?

Recordedfuture.com is a new web site that searches for predictions the web over and aggregates them into trends and visuals. You fill out three boxes - "what, who/where and when" - and up come the predictions based on what's been forecast by bloggers, research firms, news junkies and all-around oracles. An example used in a Youtube video is what companies are expanding (the what) in India (the where) in 2009 (the when and obviously not the future anymore).

Who's expanding in India? credit: Recorded Future on Youtube

"Bloggers, news outlets, social media, experts and analysts are constantly foretelling what's to come. Recorded Future offers unique analysis tools to aggregate and organize these events, and provides a comprehensive outlook of the future. Want to learn more? Request access online at RecordedFuture.com."

The quote above is from the information box at one of two Youtube videos explaining what it is. Recorded Future's web site is as spartan as it claims its predictions will be plentiful. Right now, the only thing it has are a few quotes that bespeak trends and a place to sign up for a trial account (get in line like I did).

"The data suggest that China could be more actively diversifying its currency reserves away from U.S. Treasuries," one Jing Ulrich is quoted as saying in a popup box on Recorded Future's site.

To give a idea of who might use it, the tags in the video have a monied flavor: "trends, computer science, tech talks, financial analysis, intelligence analysis, open source analysis, web 2.0, futurist, recorded future, analysis, analyst prediction, forecast, futurism, quant analysis, capital markets." The commas are mine.

CEO and founder Chris Alhberg isn't ready to talk about his new baby, according to Scott Kirsner's Innovation Economy blog with a post bearing the headline "Recorded Future: it's like Google Meets Nostradamus." I remember Alhberg (a Swede) from his days at Spotfire, an eponymous product/company he founded in 1996.

Spotfire was a popular visualization tool used to quickly analyze data in the pharmaceutical industry. Spotfire  has  since expanded into business intelligence after being acquired by Tibco in 2007. In some respects, Recorded Future seems to `spotfire' the future, that is, homogenize predictions about a future topic into a trend and represent it visually.

Indeed, that would seem to be case with Recorded Future's time lines shown in the videos below. To understand it better, I'll for now have to wait until Recorded Future clears me for a trial account and rely on the two videos. Because the prediction results are backed by the original sources such as newspaper articles or blogs, I would not be surprised if we come full circle and a few SmartPlanet.com posts pop up from time to time in Recorded Future's search results.

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure