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Saturday, July 20, 2002

At the crossroads of terror: Inside the clandestine operations center where the CIA tries to anticipate what al-Qaeda will do next
By Douglas Waller/Langley, with reporting by Christopher Preston/Washingon
Published July 1, 2002
CIA scientists are investigating exotic supercomputer programs and artificial intelligence that might help analysts link hundreds of thousands of names, places and bank accounts.

The Counterterrorism Center, or CTC, as veteran hands call it, has become the CIA's busiest outfit. Organized in 1986 to coordinate America's effort to foil terrorists overseas, the center has doubled its manpower since the Sept. 11 attacks to more than 1,100 analysts and clandestine agents. Some 2,500 cables pour into the CTC every day from CIA stations around the world, from interrogators interviewing al-Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and from foreign intelligence services that have tips on terrorists.

The center is trying to do what it could not do before: pluck obscure bits of information from the flood of often irrelevant or insignificant data and connect the dots to foil a major new attack.

Friday, July 19, 2002

Robots hardly cricket
By Robert Craddock
July 18, 2002
Somewhere in cricket-crazed England an electronics company has spent a six-figure sum to invent the game's version of Cyclops, the beeping robot that makes tennis line calls.

The thinking is the new gadget will intervene when bowlers overstep the crease and deliver a no-ball.

A beep would be heard in the umpire's ear and he would signal a no-ball.

As is so often the case in technological debates, the logic sounds flawless.

With the electronic eye taking care of no-ball calls, the umpire would not have to look down at the crease for a split second before he looks up for the more important business of deciding what happens at the other end.

It sounds like the breakthrough of the year . . . but is it?

The International Cricket Council has lit the fuse for an emotion charged debate by letting umpires use technology for any decision they are not certain about, including lbw verdicts, in the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka in September.

Many cricket people have simply had a gutful of technological intrusions into the ancient game.

It's worthwhile remembering several years ago tennis officials considered employing a new system where iron fibres were placed in the coating of a tennis ball and a magnetic field used for all line decisions (as opposed to Cyclops which operates exclusively on the service line).

But it was rejected on the basis that tennis still wanted to be a human game.

Someone quipped there were enough robots playing the game. You don't want them on every sideline as well.