How Peter Thiel And Palantir Became Key Players In The Iran Deal

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Palantir Technologies, a big-data company that was co-founded by Peter Thiel and received some of its initial financing from the CIA’s venture-capital firm, has found much more impactful applications for its technology than helping electioneering firms like Cambridge Analytica gain an edge over their rivals.

How Peter Thiel And Palantir Became Key Players In The Iran Deal

To wit, the company’s secretive technology – which purportedly can analyze 400 million digital “objects” to perform “predictive analysis” that can identify terrorists and other criminals (or determine how individuals might vote in an upcoming election) – is also being used by the International Atomic Energy Agency in a way that has countries like Brazil and others worried that the information collected by the IAEA could be shared with intelligence agencies. 

According to Bloomberg, Palantir’s technology has become instrumental in IAEA’s inspections and other efforts to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal.

Palantir has spent years modifying its predictive-policing software for inspectors at the Vienna-based IAEA, which was founded in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The tool is at the analytical core of the agency’s new $50 million Mosaic platform, turning databases of classified information into maps that help inspectors visualize ties between the people, places and material involved in nuclear activities, IAEA documents show.

The company’s software is used to plan inspections, which are supposed to occur randomly. In recent years, the amount of data available for processing to Palantir has jumped 30-fold. Of course, while the data is supposed to be stewarded by the IAEA and the IAEA alone, the world’s intelligence agencies would love to get their hands on it.

Palantir’s software helps the IAEA plan and justify unscheduled probes, which have totaled 60 in Iran since the agreement came into force in 2016. The amount of information available to inspectors that Palantir can process has jumped 30-fold in three years to some 400 million “digital objects” around the world, including social media feeds and satellite photographs inside Iran.

These enhanced investigative abilities, which are inextricably linked with the Iran deal, have raised concern that the IAEA may overstep the boundary between nuclear monitoring and intelligence-gathering.

Members of the non-aligned group, which includes Brazil and India, have raised concerns about Palantir’s technology – particularly about the “false data” that “predictive analysis” systems like Palantir’s can produce.

Of equal concern is the false data that “predictive-analysis” systems like Palantir’s can generate — either by accident or design, according to Andreas Persbo, who runs Vertic, a London-based company that advises governments on verification issues.

“You will generate a false return if you add a false assumption into the system without making the appropriate qualifier,” Persbo said. “You’ll end up convincing yourself that shadows are real.”

And with the US, Germany and others calling on Israel to turn over to the IAEA the trove of documents that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to the world last week, critics see this as a prime opportunity to “stress test” Palantir’s algorithm, given the “dirty” (another word for raw) intelligence that Israel has gathered. Palantir’s software in a way that could expose how easily its algorithms can produce a false outcome, given a false or misleading input.

Scrapping the accord, as Trump is threatening to do as early as Tuesday, would not only anger the other signatories – China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain – it would also hamstring the IAEA’s increasingly sophisticated ability to track the use of uranium in Iran and around the world, according to Ernest Moniz, who helped negotiate the deal as U.S. secretary of energy.

“We have a completely unique and unparalleled intrusive verification regime that was not there before the agreement,” Moniz said on PBS. If Trump kills the deal, “the No. 1 downside is that we lose this regime.”

[…]

Palantir has spent years modifying its predictive-policing software for inspectors at the Vienna-based IAEA, which was founded in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The tool is at the analytical core of the agency’s new $50 million Mosaic platform, turning databases of classified information into maps that help inspectors visualize ties between the people, places and material involved in nuclear activities, IAEA documents show.

That sets up Palantir, which Thiel and his partners built with CIA funding, as the platform of choice for assessing the documents Israel claims to have detailing Iran’s secret efforts to build a bomb. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Iran’s arch foe, announced the trove just days before Trump’s May 12 deadline to either make good on pledges to scrap the deal or extend sanctions relief.

President Trump’s European partners are rushing to put together a plan that would allow the Iran deal to remain intact even if the US pulls out (which it’s widely expected to do at 2 pm ET today). But Palantir’s involvement with the IAEA could be enough of a reason for the Trump administration to find a workaround that would allow inspections to continue while the parties to the agreement work toward a compromise.

After all, the ROI that the CIA is looking for from its early investment in Palantir isn’t evaluated strictly in monetary terms. Palantir’s involvement with IAEA could give the CIA unparalleled insight into the world’s rogue regimes.

And that’s not something the CIA is likely to pass up.

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  • Daniel Castro

    Palantir were those magic orbs used by the Dark Lord to control the mind of kings and wizards in Lord of The Rings… the name fits perfectly with CIA scum.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    “…rogue regimes?” Like the US and Israel?

    • Barba_Papa

      Unlike Hollywood villains no one thinks of himself, or his country as evil or rogue. Even Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot thought they were doing good. It’s always the other guy that’s bad or a rogue. Never themselves.

  • Bogdan Wolf

    Is this guy “gay”?

  • Mikronos

    Palantir the first ‘non-grata’ entity in Iran from now on. While the IAEA might appreciate America continuing to ‘look’ into Iran, there is far less reason, now, for the Iranians to help them.

  • William patterson

    If this is all true then by the end of the decade we probably won’t even have to vote as there’s a machine for that, what else? There’s flying cars, driverless cars and computers that can build brick walls along with nearly technology to do most jobs.
    Of course your always going to need a glazier(😉me) among other trades but basically the world’s tiny and some people are kicking it about like a football.
    Unfortunately you kick the air out of a ball if you keep kicking it without putting something in it(air).
    Our world is being kicked about and the air is slowly being kicked out of it and if we don’t get to a pump soon it’s going to burst.
    CHANGE!
    NOW!
    William patterson.