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Mese: Giugno 2021

[Segnalazione] Why HAL 9000 is not the future of intelligence analysis: Intelligence analysis in the 21st century

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Don’t miss my last publication for the The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare

Pili, G. (2021). “Why HAL 9000 is not the future of intelligence analysis: Intelligence analysis in the 21st century.” The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare4(1), 40–60.


Intelligence analysis is a core function of the intelligence process, and its goal is to synthesize reliable information to assist decision-makers to take a course of action toward an uncertain future. There is no escape from uncertainty, friction, and the fog of war. Since the dawn of human history, the present moment has been experienced as unpredictable, and the challenge of determining the right future through sound decisions has always existed. Investing in new technology, continually touted as the answer for analytic troubles, seems far less difficult in the short run than trying to find consensus about a long-term vision. It is easier to develop a nuclear missile, for example, than to give a universal definition of peace, and this is what the history of the XX century was all about. While intelligence analysis is still a necessary tool for decision-makers, it is unclear who or what will perform this function in the future. Though the solution cannot be only technological, the current trajectory tells a different story whereby the human analysts are removed from their central position to make way for Artificial Intelligence.

Alexei Kuvshinnikov | Structured Analytic Techniques – Applications and Cases Studies (Mafia included) | Intelligence & Interview N.36 | Giangiuseppe Pili

Alexei Kuvshinnikov
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After so many topics, it was time to face one of the structured analytic techniques, also known by the acronym “SATs” (where the “s” is the plural). Actually, when I try to explain to my mother (ah, the mothers!) what intelligence analysis is about, I use SATs. Well, not for analyzing her, but for giving her a concrete example of what intelligence analysts do. All we need is SATs, according to many. But the research in the intelligence studies shows that SATs are not so widespread, their benefits are not so measurable, and ultimately (you will discover in this interview) they are not even so widespread. All the leading intelligence scholars from different corners of the world tackled the issue and, still, there is no universal agreement. Whatever their pros and cons, whatever they are, this is a crucial topic and, I believe, we all must know what they are (if we deal with intelligence). Exactly, for this reason, I thought it appropriate to let Alexei Kuvshinnikov speak about them.  Indeed, Alexei is a passionate and professional SATs user, a member of the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE), and, as you will discover, a promoter of SATs use. As a professional expert active in criminal investigation and narcotics for international institutions, and a teacher, he argues for the need for SATs for limiting biases and cognitive pitfalls. Considering his long experience in the field and his knowledge of intelligence methods, Alexei was an ideal referent for talking about this interesting topic. I don’t want to spoiler more, but if you are interested in intelligence analysis, this is something for you. It is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Alexei: thank you!

1# Professor Alexei Kuvshinnikov, let’s start with the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the national and international readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?

Dear Giangiuseppe, thank you very much for the compliment, but I have to decline it. Being just a titleless lecturer with no academic qualifications beyond a Master´s degree, I have no pretence of belonging to the academia. Getting a taste of reality leads to getting a taste for reality, and graduate students can only benefit from it, that´s my firm belief. Accordingly, I teach SATs not as a science but rather as a tradecraft. You see, from an academic perspective, there is no difference between the academia and the real world. From the perspective of real-world operators, there often is.