Wide-Area Surveillance Re-envisioned

CosmiQ Works, an organization largely associated with the CIA, is currently working with Amazon and a satellite mapping group known as DigitalGlobe in an attempt to couple artificial intelligence analysis of images with satellite surveillance on a global scale.(1)

The ultimate objective of their project is to be able to capture and store “60 million images” of activity, both human and natural, and have an AI sieve through and analyze the data thoroughly. Though this presents an obvious threat to privacy on a massive scale, Tony Frazier, the senior vice president of DigitalGlobe, claims that since we are able to gather massive amounts of detailed information via satellite already, it follows that we should capitalize on our ability to analyze such information to the fullest.

The collected images will be stored on Amazon’s Spacenet, which holds “approximately 1,900 square kilometers full-resolution 50 cm imagery collected from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 commercial satellite and includes 8-band multispectral data. The dataset also includes 220,594 building footprints derived from this imagery which can be used as training data for machine learning.”

Wide area surveillance isn’t anything new however. For example, some police departments have been actively utilizing cameras mounted to single-engine planes to record imagery of crime-related areas for their investigations, much to the public’s unawareness:

As these projects advance, one cannot help but wonder what privacy an individual might still possess in the future? In my opinion, none.

Take as reason the Argus-Is system of DARPA – (Automated Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imagery System) which boasts an unprecedented capacity for wide area surveillance.

This latest system is one of many that are expressly purposed to monitor the globe, and just like the nuke, we will use these systems to their highest potentials -nefarious or not.

I am all for new technology, but concerning those pieces of equipment capable of micro-scoping my life, I’d like to know who is using them and for what purposes.


1.Hamilton, J. (2016). EYES IN THE SKY. CIA training artificial intelligence to spy on Earth from SPACE using ‘computer vision’ https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1673802/cia-training-artificial-intelligence-to-spy-on-earth-from-space-using-computer-vision/


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