Osama bin Laden regularly taunted America with propaganda photos and videos, leaving us to wonder where in the world was he? Now, U.S. spy agencies are seeking technology that analyzes and quickly identifies where such imagery was made.
Currently, human intelligence analysts pore over propaganda imagery to tease out clues from things such as the geography, vegetation and even the style of clothes worn and gadgets used, and try to match them up with existing images taken from satellites and on the ground.
But this is “an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive activity that often meets with limited success,” notes the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency in its announcement for the Finder Program.
There are identifying computer programs that currently exist such as: animation software to trace faces through the years, Facebook’s facial recognition program, androids’ geotagging option, and a search engine that IDs stars in photos of the night sky.
IARPA says these types of consumer-oriented systems are limited because they “tend to work best in geographic areas with significant population densities or that are well traveled by tourists, and where the query image or video contains notable features such as mountains or buildings.”
The Finder Program, as its wished-for software is called, “will deliver rigorously tested solutions for the image/video geolocation task in any outdoor terrestrial location.”
The end product of the program isn’t expected to come into effect until 2016.
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