Spying On Linguistics


Alexis Madrigal investigates the government's Metaphor Program, run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity [IARPA]:

The Metaphor Program may represent a nine-figure investment by the government in understanding how people use language. … The assumption is that common turns of phrase, dissected and reassembled through cognitive linguistics, could say something about the views of those citizens that they might not be able to say themselves. The language of a culture as reflected in a bunch of text on the Internet might hide secrets about the way people think that are so valuable that spies are willing to pay for them.