“The Sentinel Initiative is an experimental and developmental effort to incorporate data and possibly determine future information from current perceptions of an intelligence problem,” explains a document from the FOIA request. Although rarely seen with data, the documents reveal how the NRO is developing an AI system that can be able to combine extensive data with satellite data to learn everything about people and communities, from war zones and enemy aircraft fields. Hypothetically, AI can integrate satellite imagery with all kinds of data points, gaining real-time insights into the world below information from news sources, environmental sensors, or social media.
“Sentient employs analytical sensing, multi-intelligence fusion, and automated orchestrated collections to capture and maintain dynamic goals and activities that provide integrated intelligence.”
The NRO told The Verge that civilians should not be too concerned about domestic surveillance because they strictly follow Executive Order 12333, which outlines intelligence that could legally assemble authorities in the United States. However, without the camouflage, the sentient project has been categorized for the public; little is known about the essence of what it is doing or how it is doing it. While this may seem a bit dystopian, the project has the potential to make civilian satellites more efficient and productive. The NRO is a member of the U.S. intelligence community and a force in the State Department that deals with satellite and signal intelligence. They probably got the most public recognition from their USA-247 satellite badge, which features a giant octopus in wrapped tents around the world, with the motto “Nothing to reach out to.” Unlike other intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the National Security Agency (NSA), the NRO does a good job of staying relatively unknown and away from the media limelight. No matter what happens to NROs and their sentient projects, they certainly won’t be ashamed of the old cliches of spies and intelligence agencies.