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In-Q-Tel taps AI firm for harnessing unstructured data

In-Q-Tel, the intelligence community’s venture capital arm, has invested in Forge.AI, a startup  that focuses on using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to turn unstructured information into machine-readable data so it can be ingested by analytical systems and algorithmic processes in real time.

The company's "capabilities are fundamentally amplifying and accelerating the analytical, predictive, and decision-making capabilities of these critical communities," Forge Co-Founder and CEO Jim Crowley said in a statement. "We believe Forge.AI can meaningfully enhance situational awareness, course of action hypothesis testing, supply chain modeling, counter-WMD modeling, and force protection planning, to name a few."

Forge initially targeted the financial services industry because firms there "invest tremendous amounts of money in machine learning infrastructure,” Crowley said in an interview. Government offers a different use case, "but the information challenge that they’re facing is very similar,” he said. “There was a natural consistency between what we’re doing commercially and what we’re doing on the government side, so from our perspective it only makes sense.”

Organizations operate with the assumption that 80% of generated data is in unstructured formats, Crowley said.

“At this point in time, there is a significant inflection point happening where the historical means of working with data and information has been adequate for history but it’s not sufficient for the future,” he said.

Forge designed its platform to take in that unstructured information typically formatted for human consumption -- like regulatory filings, news, websites and broadcasts for instance -- and turn it into what Crowley dubbed “structured intelligent event feeds.”

Forge also links users to the data through a cloud computing environment so customers do not have to deploy the infrastructure on their side. While not necessary to enable the data ingestion at scale, Crowley acknowledged the cloud aspect does help in that respect.

“It makes life easier for everyone involved in the value chain, and I think that’s generally true when you look at how so many pieces of infrastructure have moved into the cloud, it’s for that very reason,” Crowley said. “We are doing this at scale and doing it in the cloud just makes everything go faster for our customers.”

The partnership with In-Q-Tel is one part of Forge’s strategy for growth in the government market. Forge also announced that retired Army Lt. Gen. John Mulholland has joined the board of advisers to help steer its government strategy. Mulholland is a former associate director for military affairs at the CIA and also was deputy commander of Special Operations Command.

A longer version of this article first appeared on Washington Technology, a sibling site to GCN.

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