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(Almost) Live @ Information On Demand 2012: A Q&A With IBM’s Jeff Jonas

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Jeff Jonas sat down last evening with Scott and I in the Information On Demand 2012 Solutions EXPO to chat about privacy in the Big Data age, and also gave a sneak look into the new “Context Accumulation” technology he’s been working on.

You really ought to get to know IBM’s Jeff Jonas.

As chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics group and an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Jeff has been instrumental in driving the development of some ground-breaking technologies, during and prior to IBM’s acquisition of his company, Systems Research & Development (SRD), which Jonas founded in 1984.

SRD’s technology included technology used by the surveillance intelligence arm of the gaming industry, and leveraged facial recognition to protect casinos from aggressive card counting teams (never mind the great irony that IBM’s Yuchun Lee was once upon a time one of those card counters — I think we need to have an onstage interview between those two someday, and I volunteer to conduct it!)

Today, possibly half the casinos in the world use technology created by Jonas and his SRD team, work frequently featured on the Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, and the Travel Channel.

Following an investment in 2001 by In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the CIA, SRD also played a role in America’s national security and counterterrorism mission. One such contribution includes a unique analysis of the connections between the 9/11 terrorists.

This “link analysis” is so unique that it is taught in universities and has been the widely cited by think tanks and the media, including an extensive one-on-one interview with Peter Jennings for ABC PrimeTime.

Following IBM’s acquisition of SRD, these Jonas-inspired innovations continue to create big impacts on society, including the arrest of over 150 child pornographers and the prevention of a national security risk poised against a significant American sporting event.

This technology also assisted in the reunification of over 100 loved ones separated by Hurricane Katrina and at the same time was used to prevent known sexual offenders from being co-located with children in emergency relocation facilities.

Jonas is also somewhat unique as a technologist in that he frequently engages with those in the privacy and civil liberties community. The essential question: How can government protect its citizens while preventing the erosion of long-held freedoms like the Fourth Amendment? With privacy in mind, Jonas invented software which enables organizations to discover records of common interest (e.g., identities) without the transfer of any privacy-invading content.

That’s about where we start this interview with Jeff Jonas, so I’ll let Scott and myself take it from there…

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