Revealed: The 1962 CIA Paper That Predicts the Big Deal With Big Data

A computer operator in 1962 Photograph by Archive Photos/Getty Images

Last week the Central Intelligence Agency published for the first time “Some Far-Out Thoughts on Computers”, a 1962 internal document that shows how eager the agency was to exploit the power of data for Cold War spying purposes. The author, CIA analyst and self-described “computer hobbyist” Orrin Clotworthy, described with eerie clarity the promise of data analytics and computer modeling to predict the future—what the intelligence community today might call “beating the news.” Herein, the highlights:

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