Although it may be a tool to find individuals and catch them before acts of mayhem, Prism is likely a prediction tool that may spot approaching trouble weeks before it spreads chaotically across the globe. Big Data can spot minor fluctuations, waves or ripples, that can spread rapidly. An example: a Saudi crude price that is an anomaly, or even a mistaken listing that can predict a devastating rise in gas prices weeks or months prior to reaching the U.S.
Obviously the algorithmic possibilities are critical: is Turing in PRISM's future?
Julian Barbour uses Leibniz to explore the nature of physical reality. Beyond Ted Talk levels.
Lecture from the Perimeter Institute http://streamer.perimeterinstitute.ca/Flash/9a93c428-c616-4dca-8713-915277e28056/viewer.html
Lee Smolin's great, all over the place pursuit of current theoretical implications in physics (particle, wave, and of course quantum). Smolin edges us towards the possibility "space" is an illusion and that "time" is an evolving word that may house the eventual meaningful measuring of 'now.' Right now though, it seems illusory. His book is more than a clearinghouse of recent research into a pivotal tangent inside physics. It's also a warning that as we destroy mathematics in our physical world, we deform it psychically in parallel realms like academia and worse, media. That by distorting equilibrium to make a buck, we may be proving equilibrium wrong in other fields. From the epilogue:
"Neo-classical economics conceptualizes economics as path-independent. An efficient market is path-independent, as is a market with a single, stable equilibrium. In a path-independent system, it should be impossible to make money purely by trading, without producing anything of value. That sort of activity is called arbitrage, and basic financial theory holds that in an efficient market arbitrage is impossible, because everything is already priced in such a way that there are no inconsistencies. You cannot trade dollars for yen, trade those for euros, back for dollars and make a profit. Nonetheless hedge funds and investment banks have made fortunes trading in currency markets. Their success should be impossible in an efficient market, but this does not have seem to have bothered economic theorists."
- pg. 260
What Smolin suggests, without stating, is that our markets are eccentric, they thrive and die on minute eccentricities that traders pounce upon, like tears in reality.
Here's James Gleick's review in NYRB.