Monday, March 28, 2022

Whitney Webb: Palantir and predictive policing

"Palantir" = 

The Military Origins of Facebook

Soon after Palantir’s incorporation, though the exact timing and details of the investment remain hidden from the public, the CIA’s In-Q-Tel became the company’s first backer, aside from Thiel himself, giving it an estimated $2 million. In-Q-Tel’s stake in Palantir would not be publicly reported until mid-2006. 

The money was certainly useful. In addition, Alex Karp told the New York Times in October 2020, “the real value of the In-Q-Tel investment was that it gave Palantir access to the CIA analysts who were its intended clients.” A key figure in the making of In-Q-Tel investments during this period, including the investment in Palantir, was the CIA’s chief information officer, Alan Wade, who had been the intelligence community’s point man for Total Information Awareness. Wade had previously cofounded the post-9/11 Homeland Security software contractor Chiliad alongside Christine Maxwell, sister of Ghislaine Maxwell and daughter of Iran-Contra figure, intelligence operative, and media baron Robert Maxwell. 

After the In-Q-Tel investment, the CIA would be Palantir’s only client until 2008. During that period, Palantir’s two top engineers—Aki Jain and Stephen Cohen—traveled to CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, every two weeks. Jain recalls making at least two hundred trips to CIA headquarters between 2005 and 2009. During those regular visits, CIA analysts “would test [Palantir’s software] out and offer feedback, and then Cohen and Jain would fly back to California to tweak it.” As with In-Q-Tel’s decision to invest in Palantir, the CIA’s chief information officer during this time remained one of TIA’s architects. Alan Wade played a key role in many of these meetings and subsequently in the “tweaking” of Palantir’s products.

Today, Palantir’s products are used for mass surveillance, predictive policing, and other disconcerting policies of the US national-security state. A telling example is Palantir’s sizable involvement in the new Health and Human Services–run wastewater surveillance program that is quietly spreading across the United States. As noted in a previous Unlimited Hangout report, that system is the resurrection of a TIA program called Biosurveillance. It is feeding all its data into the Palantir-managed and secretive HHS Protect data platform. The decision to turn controversial DARPA-led programs into a private ventures, however, was not limited to Thiel’s Palantir.

"predictive" = 666 (English Sumerian)

"Palantir Technologies" = 223 (English Ordinal)
"The Synagogue of Satan" = 223 (English Ordinal)
"Skull And Cross Bones" = 223 (English Ordinal)
"population control" = 223 (Reverse Ordinal)
"Worshipful master"" = 223 (English Ordinal)

Though usually listed as having been founded in 2004, SEC filings state Palantir's official incorporation to be in May 2003 by Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal), who named the start-up after the "seeing stone" in Tolkien's legendarium.[10] Thiel saw Palantir as a "mission-oriented company" which could apply software similar to PayPal's fraud recognition systems to "reduce terrorism while preserving civil liberties."[11]

In 2004, Thiel bankrolled the creation of a prototype by PayPal engineer Nathan Gettings and Stanford University students Joe Lonsdale and Stephen Cohen. That same year, Thiel hired Alex Karp, a former colleague of his from Stanford Law School, as chief executive officer.[12]

Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company initially struggled to find investors. According to Karp, Sequoia Capital chairman Michael Moritz doodled through an entire meeting, and a Kleiner Perkins executive lectured the founders about the inevitable failure of their company.[13] The only early investments were $2 million from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, and $30 million from Thiel himself and his venture capital firm, Founders Fund.[7][8][14][15][16]

Palantir developed its technology by computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies over three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel.[17][7] The company stated computers alone using artificial intelligence could not defeat an adaptive adversary. Instead, Palantir proposed using human analysts to explore data from many sources, called intelligence augmentation.[18]

Peter Andreas Thiel (/tl/; born 11 October 1967) is a German-American billionaire entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and political activist.[1][2][3][4] A co-founder of PayPalPalantir Technologies, and Founders Fund, he was the first outside investor in Facebook.[5][6] He was ranked No. 4 on the Forbes Midas List of 2014, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, and No. 391 on the Forbes 400 in 2020, with a net worth of $2.1 billion.[7][8] As of January 2022, Thiel has an estimated net worth of $9.13 billion and was ranked 279th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Thiel was born in Frankfurt am MainWest Germany, on 11 October 1967, to Susanne and Klaus Friedrich Thiel.[18][19] The family migrated to the United States when Peter was one year old and lived in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father worked as a chemical engineer. Klaus then worked for various mining companies, creating an itinerant upbringing for Thiel and his younger brother, Patrick Michael Thiel.[20][21] Thiel's mother became a U.S. citizen, but his father did not.[19]

Before settling in Foster City, California, in 1977, the Thiels lived in South Africa and South West Africa (modern-day Namibia). Peter changed elementary schools seven times. He attended a strict establishment in Swakopmund that required students to wear uniforms and utilized corporal punishment, such as striking students' hands with a ruler. This experience instilled a distaste for uniformity and regimentation later reflected in his support for individualism and libertarianism.[22][23]

Thiel played Dungeons & Dragons, was an avid reader of science fiction, with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein among his favorite authors, and a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien's works, stating as an adult that he had read The Lord of the Rings over ten times.[24] Six firms (Palantir TechnologiesValar Ventures, Mithril Capital, Lembas LLC, Rivendell LLC and Arda Capital) that he founded adopted names originating from Tolkien.[25]

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