• Topic Modeling of Palantir Patents and List of Palantir Contracts

      Iliadis, Andrew; Acker, Amelia (2021-08-18)
      Palantir is one of the most secretive and understudied surveillance firms in the US. The company supplies information technology (IT) solutions to governments, nonprofits, and corporations, focusing on data integration and surveillance services. We begin by sketching Palantir’s company history and contract network, followed by an explanation of key terms associated with Palantir’s area of technology specialization and a description of the firm’s platform ecosystem. We then provide a summary of current scholarship on Palantir’s continuing role in policing, intelligence, and security operations. Our primary contribution and analysis are a computational topic modeling of a purposive sample (n=155) of Palantir’s surveillance patents including their topics and themes. This approach follows recent literature that uses patents as primary data for researching the surveillance imaginaries and capabilities of IT firms. We end by discussing the concept of infrastructuring to understand Palantir as a surveillance platform, where information standards like administrative metadata are theorized as phenomena for structuring entities in and through access to digital information.