For an AI biz associated with the CIA and the much-criticised US immigration agency ICE, whose founder helped finance impeached ex-president and alleged insurrectionist Donald Trump, it might be fair to assume Palantir would endevour to avoid giving the wrong impression.
For example, publicising a project under the title “Global Information Dominance Experiments”, run by the US Airforce, might not be first on the list to create a friendlier image. But that’s not for Palantir.
As if inviting comparison with Bond villains only a Bacofoil bodysuit and height-challenged sidekick would add to, the project “was designed to enable cross-combatant command collaboration to generate globally-integrated effects using artificial intelligence-enabled information,” according to the US military description.
Palantir chief operating officer Shyam Sankar said on an earnings call: “The meta-constellation… is radically changing how satellites are tasked, the latency of collection, and it’s creating a fundamental link in that AI-enabled decision chain.”
Sankar added: “We orchestrated a meta-constellation of 237 satellites by working with an array of commercial space companies. These companies have been deploying constellations of hyperspectral, radar, and elite sensors into orbit. It’s one of the largest collaborative sensor constellations ever to see operation.”
Shannon Morahan, recruiting operations analyst at the AI firm, said that its meta-constellation software “harnesses the power of growing satellite constellations, deploying AI into space to provide insights to decision-makers here on Earth.”
“As it orbits, the Edge AI platform hot-swaps the right micro models in, rapidly reconfiguring the satellite. The models process imagery, they detect submarines, geo-locate them, and then determine any movement since the last collection passed, all in under a second,” she claimed.
As well as military application, the technology could find indications of wildfires to help understand how climate change is affecting crop productivity, she suggested.
The occasion for the call was Palantir’s Q2 results. Revenue grew 49 per cent compared with the same period last year to reach $376m. However, losses from operations continued to deepen, to $146m from $99m.
But COO Sankar didn’t just dial in to describe the dry stuff. He was also at pains to point out Palantir’s unusual approach to recruitment. The company is looking for “unique and extraordinary people who by definition are going to be uneven and spiky” to develop them.
“Who can they be? How do we maximize them and their potential? We spend time thinking about exactly what gamma radiation, your incoming Bruce Banner needs to turn into the Incredible Hulk, and then we irradiate them,” he said.
Even if he is a good guy at heart, the Incredible Hulk has well-documented anger-management issues. Maybe not the sort of character you want with the keys to the “Global Information Dominance Experiments” then. ®