Palantir CEO claims terrorist plot foiled every week in Europe
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Terrorist attacks are being foiled in Europe nearly every week, according to the CEO of Palantir, a data analysis company focused on national security.
Alex Karp is the head of the Silicon Valley-based company, which specializes in big-data analytics. One of the company’s main products, called Gotham, is used by counterterrorism analysts at numerous government agencies around the world.
Essentially, the system mines troves of data to try and detect terrorist plots before they are executed. According to Karp, dozens of attempted attacks are foiled across Europe every year.
“I find out about a stopped terror attack in Europe about once a week – and not just the caricature that we all see in the media of radical Muslim attacks – also far-right people attacking Muslims,” Karp said in an interview on inside.pod, a podcast by the Berlin-based, Axel Springer publishing company.
I believe that if those terror attacks had happened, you’d have a very different political reality, and that is super motivational.
Palantir’s data-analysis software works by connecting various dots hinting that someone is planning a terrorist attack. The indicators include many seemingly mundane activities such as buying plane or train tickets.
The company is known for secretive work with organizations including the US government and the US Army. Naturally, their work is highly controversial with many raising privacy concerns.
Karp attempted to answer the company’s critics in the interview. “Typically, people who are unhappy with Palantir being used by police and clandestine services and the special forces I believe either don’t believe we actually are providing data protection, which we are… or they don’t trust government entities of any kind to be truthful about what they’re doing,” he said.
Palantir software detected a suspicious pattern in the behavior of Anis Amri, the perpetrator of the 2016 Berlin Christmas market attack, and sent the details to police stations across Germany. It is also widely rumored to have helped catch Osama Bin Laden, though no evidence of this has ever been offered.
When pressed on the matter in the podcast, Karp said that he cannot comment. “I’m super proud of our work and there are someday a lot of stories I’d like to tell,” he said. “Hopefully I can talk about that one.”
Palantir was founded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel and other former PayPal alumni in 2004. It raised $500 million on a valuation of $20 billion in 2015. However, it has never reported a profit. Morgan Stanley now values the company at $4.4 billion.
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