Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: Software 'can identify'
Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns via Short Sharp Science by Tom Simonite on
The Bush administration will soon be history. But we may be left with a
computerised version of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld to
remember them by.

US defence giant and stealth-bomber manufacturer Northrop Grumman is
patenting a system (see the patent here) to detect the "unknown
unknowns" Rumsfeld famously warned against in 2002, when asked where
the evidence was that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There
are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know
we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we
do not know we don't know."
Grumman's patent is every bit as baffling. Software fed a long chunk of
text on a certain subject will somehow use mysteriously
powerful "inferencing algorithms" to work on the facts and extract the
unknown unknowns.

Paul Marks, technology correspondent
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