An advocate of human-computer symbiosis, Shyam Sankar looks for clues in big and disparate data sets.

Why you should listen

Shyam Sankar is a Director at Palantir Technologies, a secretive Silicon Valley company where he oversees deployments of the company's core technology, which helps law enforcement teams and corporations analyze giant, unrelated databases for clues to potential ... anything. Palantir technologies has been used to find missing children, to detect banking fraud, and to uncover the Shadow Network, a cyber-spy ring that stooped so low as to hack the Dalai Lama's email.

As part of his work, Sankar thinks deeply about the place where human and machine intelligence meet. While artificial intelligence (AI) is the dominant paradigm, he is an advocate of JCR Licklider's "intelligence augmentation" (IA) approach, where algorithms and brains work together to solve problems.

What others say

“Palantir's software pulls off one of the great computer science feats of the era: It combs through all available databases, identifying related pieces of information, and puts everything together in one place.” — Bloomberg Businessweek

Shyam Sankar’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Shyam Sankar


The Wild West of the Internet: Reflections on The New York Times hack

January 31, 2013

By Shyam Sankar and Gabe Rosen The Internet is the new Wild West, a frontier big enough for every pioneer and outlaw to roam free. Today, The New York Times revealed that hackers in China had spent the last four months infiltrating its computer systems and pilfering employee passwords. As in the old West, it’s […]

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Global Issues

Investigating foreign fighter groups in Syria: A Q&A with Shyam Sankar and Brian Fishman

September 12, 2012

Shyam Sankar isn’t satisfied with the current state of data analysis. In his recent TEDTalk, “The rise of human-computer cooperation,” Sankar explained why we have a responsibility to create computer programs that drive human-centered decisions, rather than trying to supplant them with computer-centered data processing. In his talk, Sankar — the Director of Forward Deployed Engineering at […]

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