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The military's red balloon test.

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posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 08:17 AM

US military offers $40,000 challenge to internet users

For most of us, social networking sites are just for fun - checking what our friends are doing, organising our weekends or playing games when the boss is not looking. But the stakes for users of sites like Facebook and Twitter are set to increase dramatically tomorrow, as the US government launches a competition that offers cunning web users the chance to win thousands of dollars.

In a nine-day challenge run by Darpa, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, members of the public are being offered a grand prize of $40,000 if they successfully use the internet and social networks to track down a series of balloons hidden across America.

While everyone I have seen discussing this is focused on the money, DARPA says the purpose of the test is to:

...find out more about how large-scale problems can be solved by using the net and social networks to enhance "timely communication, wide-area team building and urgent mobilization".

The idea is that through observing how the various groups attempting the task fare, the organization will learn a significant amount about the way computer systems and popular websites can be used to harness collective intelligence.

Am I the only one who finds this a bit creepy? Isn't the military testing how social networks problem solve a bit of a double edged sword?

See also:

DARPA "balloon hunt" could win you $40K cash

[edit on 4-12-2009 by loam]

posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 08:37 AM
Great. Now the whole world is turning into a dumb reality show.

posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 08:57 AM
I Found Them! Here is a story on them:

You and I, and a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone

Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, "Some thing's out there"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic lads, it's a red alert
There's something here from somewhere else

The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine Decision Street
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super-scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry

This is what we've waiting for
This is it boys, this is war
The President is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine knights of the air
Riding super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a super hero
Everyone's a Captain Kirk

With orders to identify, to clarify and classify
Scrambling in the summer sky
As ninety-nine red balloons go by
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine dreams I have had
Every one a red balloon
Now it's all over and I'm standin' pretty
In this dust that was a city

If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go


GRIN :-)

Er.. O.k. so I cheated.. but when you know all the lyrics kinda makes ya think NENA was trying to tell us something about the Cold War back in the 80's ( darn I miss those 80's)

posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 09:40 AM
Its a little creepy, but does make perfect sense. The internet has always been a huge liability AND a huge asset for intelligence gathering... and remember, it was a government system initially anyway. Now with the meteoric popularity rise of social networking sites you have people connected like never before, recieving phone and e-mail updates, sharing images, etc. its a wonder its taken the DoD this long to attempt to use them as a collective intelligence gathering tool. Not only do i think its 40k (plus the cost of ballons) well spent, I think its gonna give DARPA huge returns on thier investment.

"All your tweets are belong to U.S."

posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 09:54 AM
sound more like a test in keyword-pattern indexing and tracing. They can key on to 1 word or phrase and watch how it's passed, shared, manipulated and workflowed.

I like how they guise it as a "contest" though.

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