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CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

In a bid to attract and retain top tech talent, the CIA has announced the formation of CIA Labs, a new venture designed to encourage innovation in "artificial intelligence, data analytics, biotechnology, advanced materials, and high-performance quantum computing,” among other areas, per MIT Technology Review.

How it works: Formed in part because of concerns over a talent drain to the private sector in Silicon Valley, CIA Labs will allow employees to patent their own inventions and keep 15% of the proceeds derived from them, with a maximum salary bump of $150,000 per annum.

  • The new initiative will seek to actively partner with academia and other members of the roughly 300 extant federal research laboratories.

Zoom in: The agency is particularly interested in big data technology that can process information in the field, Dawn Meyerriecks, head of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology, told MIT Technology Review’s Patrick Howell O’Neill.

  • “Militaries and intelligence agencies around the world deal in a multitude of sensors like, for instance, the kind of tech found on drones,” O’Neill writes.
  • “The CIA’s own sensors suck up incalculable mountains of data per second, [Meyerriecks] says. Officers badly want to develop massive computational power in a relatively small, low-power sensor so the sorting can be done quickly on the device instead of being sent back to a central system.”

The big picture: CIA Labs joins a constellation of agency-affiliated entities devoted to technological innovation in the service of national security, including the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology and In-Q-Tel, the agency’s venture capital firm, which is based in Virginia and Silicon Valley.

Go deeper

The great power shift

Elon Musk at the Axel Springer Awards on Dec. 1 in Berlin. Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

America’s entrepreneurial and technology power is dispersing beyond Silicon Valley and New York — a trend greatly accelerated by two Cs: coronavirus and California.

The big picture: Elon Musk is the latest high-profile business leader to bolt from California because of its governance and cost.

Updated 8 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 11 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.