Technology is a family affair for Negroponte

John D. Negroponte, sworn in today as the first director of national intelligence, has gained broad experience in diplomacy at ambassadorial and senior administrative assignments around the world. But his experience of technology likely could be shaped by the fact that his brother, Nicholas Negroponte, is a founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's legendary Media Lab.

Nicholas Negroponte founded the Media Lab in 1980 along with former MIT president Jerome Weisner. The research interests of media lab scholars have crossed disciplines and delved very deep into the relationships between information and physical reality.

Such means of structuring and analyzing information are critical to the intelligence community's need to harness technology to track and destroy terrorists, as well as keep track of the intentions of ally's abroad.

A recent and representative example of Media Lab research was a doctoral thesis defense by Nathan Eagle. Eagle used mobile phones to monitor the behavior and communication of 100 MIT students over eight months, creating a vast dataset that he used to analyze social networks and behavior.

Eagle's research could have implications for monitoring relationships among terrorists or criminals via mobile phones, so as to build up clear pictures of their social and business networks.

The new DNI also took on technology work when he held the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs between 1985 and 1987.

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