There's a lot to learn about the world through YouTube. In fact, in 2008, the director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Open Source Center said that "YouTube…carries some unique and honest-to-goodness intelligence."
Enter ALADDIN, the Automated Low-Level Analysis and Description of Diverse Intelligence Video, a project by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (Iarpa), the CIA's research division. For the heavy-duty video and photography, the military is testing an archiving system; no similar system exists for amateur video, until now. "The unconstrained video clips produced by anyone who has a digital camera present a significant challenge," Iarpa notes. Writes Wired:
Uploaded videos contain such diverse scenes and situations, not to mention grainy images and sound, that it's much harder to prep algorithms for automated evaluation. And human analysts only have so much time for the "eyes-on-video/ears-on-audio" routine.
In ALADDIN, Iarpa wants a boundless database of open source video clips, and the ability to search "for the occurrence of specific events of interest…". Once the system finds the relevant videos, it should be able to "rapidly and automatically produce a textual English-language recounting…describing the particular scene, actors, objects and activities involved."
Maybe BP should start testing this system, with all these videos.