Google invests in firm that tries to predict the future

Massachusetts-based Recorded Future is one of several startups receiving money from the search giant's investment arm

Google has invested in a startup company that claims to be able to predict the future.

The company's investment arm, Google Ventures, has sunk an undisclosed sum into Recorded Future, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup that "offers customers new ways to analyze the past, present and the predicted future," according to a new Google Ventures Web site that went live on Monday.

Recorded Future's own Web site doesn't list any products for sale, but the company appears to have developed a data analytics technology that could be used to try to predict future stock market events or even terrorist activity, according to blog posts and videos on its site. The technology looks at how frequently an entity or event is referred to in the news and around the Web over a period of time, then uses that data to project how it might behave in the future.

"At Recorded Future, we compute a momentum value for each entity and event in our database," one blog post explains. "The momentum value indicates how interesting a certain event or entity is at a particular time, and is continuously updated. In computing the momentum value, we take into account the volume of news around an entity or event, as well as what sources it is mentioned in, what other events and entities it is mentioned together with, and several other factors.

"The momentum measure is used to present the most relevant query results in our web user interface, but it can also be analyzed using statistical methods to predict possible future changes in momentum, which in turn can be valuable, e.g. for trading decisions."

The startup has claimed its customers include "some of the top government agencies and trading firms in the world," according to a February profile in The Boston Globe. For now it is not granting interviews, according to a story Monday at All Things Digital.

It's one of several companies to receive investments from Google Ventures, which just turned one year old. Google is expanding the investment arm and plans to put $US100 million into startups this year, it told reporters Monday.

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