Total Information Awareness (DARPA’s Research Program)

Publication Type:

Journal Article


ISIJ Monitor


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 10, p.105-109 (2003)


automatic translation, biometric identification, collaborative decision-making, data mining, early warning, homeland security, preemption, speech recognition, structured argumentation, terrorist threat, ultra-large database


The most serious asymmetric threat facing the United States is terrorism, a threat characterized by collections of people loosely organized in shadowy networks that are difficult to identify and define. In response, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) created the Information Awareness Office (IAO). IAO plans to develop technology that will allow understanding of the intent of these networks, their plans, and potentially define opportunities for disrupting or eliminating the threats. To effectively and efficiently carry this out, sharing, collaborating and reasoning shall be promoted to convert nebulous data to knowledge and actionable options. The ‘Total Information Awareness’ is the main program of IAO aimed to “revolutionize the ability of the United States to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists – and decipher their plans – and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts.” The program objective is to create a counter-terrorism information system that increases information coverage, provides focused warnings, automatically queue analysts based on partial pattern matches, supports collaboration, analytical reasoning and information sharing so that analysts can hypothesize, test and propose theories, and mitigating strategies about possible futures, so decision-makers can effectively evaluate the impact of current or future policies and prospective courses of action.