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Tag: Intelligence

[Segnalazione] Integrating intelligence theory with philosophy: introduction to the special issue

Since I started this blog, its motto was “All we need is philosophy… which is love for knowledge”. Naturally, it was a paraphrasis of Beatle’s song “All we need is love”, an over abused mantra. The irony is that the paraphrasis is almost untouched as philosophy was classically defined by Plato as love for knowledge (or wisdom, or whatever it increases human understanding): “all we need is love for knowledge” is what I would have sung if only I was a good songwriter. “All we need is love for knowledge” seems to be a far better and more universal creed, so much so that so great music composers such as the Beatles did not miss it. As it was said in a private conversation by one of the two editors of the esteemed Intelligence and National Security, this special issue was an act of love toward philosophy. As strange it may sound, as unlikely it could be in hour days, when everything is reduced to brutish emotions and useless sarcasm and cynicism, this is the truth.

[Segnalazione] Social dominance orientation predicts civil and military intelligence analysts’ utilitarian responses to ethics-of-intelligence dilemmas


Margoni, F., Pili, G. Social dominance orientation predicts civil and military intelligence analysts’ utilitarian responses to ethics-of-intelligence dilemmas. Curr Psychol (2021).


What is the real ethical framework of an intelligence analyst? We addressed this question by presenting a group of civil and military intelligence analysts (N = 41), and a control group of non-professionals (N = 41), with a set of dilemmas depicting intelligence agents facing the decision whether to violate a deontological rule where that would benefit their work (ethics-of-intelligence dilemmas). Participants judged how much violating the rule was acceptable. Next, we measured participants’ individual differences in social dominance orientation (using the Social Dominance Orientation scale which measures the proclivity to endorse intergroup hierarchy and anti-egalitarianism), their deontological and utilitarian response tendencies (using classical moral dilemmas), and how much they value rule conformity, traditions, and safety and stability in the society (using the Value Survey). A multiple regression analysis revealed that, among all the factors, only social dominance significantly helped explain variability in intelligence analysts’ but not non-professionals’ resolutions of the ethics-of-intelligence dilemmas. Specifically, social dominance positively predicted the tendency to judge violating the deontological rule acceptable, possibly suggesting that analysts who show a stronger proclivity to desire their country or company to prevail over others are also more lenient toward deontological violations if these result in a greater good for the state or the company. For the first time in the open literature, we elucidated some key aspects of the real ethics of intelligence.

[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.

Ralf Lillbacka | Clausewitz, Uncertainty and Intelligence | Intelligence & Interview N.34 | Giangiuseppe Pili

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When I was working on my recent three-fold research papers on intelligence analysis, I came across a journal article that fascinated me quite a lot since I’ve read the title. It was the case in which the content I read was exactly as good as my expectations (which are usually extremely high when they come to peer-review scientific papers). Indeed, since I started studying war theory and the philosophy of war, Clausewitz’s On War was mandatory reading. Interestingly, Clausewitz is inversely proportionally considered in intelligence and war studies. If he is one of the founding fathers of the modern understanding of war (and rightly so, notwithstanding many critics), he is almost entirely dismissed in the intelligence domain. Yes, true, he stated that intelligence is unreliable by nature, that the commander should avoid to trust intelligence (too much), and that uncertainty is inherently part of war and warfare… and so he couldn’t be said a big supporter of intelligence in general. Is this sufficient to discharge his work? So, when I read An Outline of a Clausewitzian Theory of Intelligence I finally found a partial vindication of my long-lasting necessity to see Clausewitz better considered within the intelligence studies and, more broadly, intelligence. But even more importantly, in an age that prizes all that comes from the last technological invention but the human brain, it is always healthy to remember how our world is ultimately unpredictable and dominated by an intrinsic uncertainty. The efforts of the last seventy years were to prove that everything has its own place as if nature and human beings are only tiny cogged wheels, in spite of all suggested by history and by ordinary life (actually). Then, after such a reading, I almost felt obliged to contact Dr Lillbacka to have a deeper conversation about these topics. This interview is part of this discussion which, I hope, you will find as fascinating as insightful. In addition, I invite the readers to discover Lillbacka’s publications, which are as rich as rigorous. There is no question that not everything can be covered in a single interview but I hope you will find so much to think about prediction, friction, and uncertainty that, at least, you will be enriched as much as I did. 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, Ralf: thank you!

Alessandro Giorgi | Intelligence Operations Beyond the Iron Curtain & Military History | Intelligence & Interview N.26 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

Alessandro Giorgi - Approved by the Author
Alessandro Giorgi – Approved by the Author

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I’m very happy to host Alessandro Giorgi’s interview on the intelligence operations beyond the Iron Curtain as the first one of 2021! Indeed, I had the pleasure to meet Alessandro several times, when he presented his amazing research on several topics. First, we meet in Milan (ah, I start to get old and feel a certain nostalgia!). He was presenting his (back then) last book on the Vietnam War, which is a passion of mine. I knew about the event because it was sponsored by the Italian Society of Military History, of which Alessandro and I are both members. It was presented in the “sanctuary” of Milanese military history, the Libreria di Storia Militare (a place that I love and I encourage anybody to discover). I was struck by Alessandro’s knowledge, rigor, and… passion. He is one of the best speakers I ever encountered. The second time we met was still in Milan when I first heard his research on intelligence operations beyond the Iron Curtain. And again, I was ruptured by his storytelling. Along with me, there was a young friend of mine. He is a young fighter. Alessandro’s speech so struck him that he felt the need to read more about the Cold War. Then I realized that Giorgi’s really able to reach the heart of anybody who has the pleasure to hear him speak. From that moment on, I was only confirmed about my opinion. And then, I was pleased he readily accepted being part of Intelligence & Interview. Without further ados, 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, Alessandro: thank you!

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

Ferdinando Angeletti | Institute of High Studies on Terrorism and Insurgency (Istituto di Alti Studi per il Terrorismo e l’Eversione – IASTE) | Intelligence & Interview N.25 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

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Working – an age ago – to my monograph on the philosophy of war, I had the chance to read Ferdinando Angeletti’s paper. It was very perspicuous and well-written. Then, I decided to contact him to have feedback on a chapter of the book, “pure theory of war”, where I analyzed the normative component of the principles of war. Angeletti was then interested in the theory of games and its application to war (I hope to recall it correctly, but everybody knows my infallibility!). Naturally, it started a conversation, and the chapter improved by it (inspite of my alleged infallibility). By then, Angeletti and I had the opportunity to co-author a piece on terrorism during Brexit published by the Brexit institute (Dublin City University). Then, I discovered how a detailed, careful, and rigorous researcher Angeletti is, even more. Meanwhile, I discover, first, that Angeletti was part of the Italian Society of Military History (SISM, the readers still remember – yes!, I know it! – the recent Virgilio Ilari’s interview); second, that he founded an institute on terrorism and eversion studies. Then, I was glad to be part of it as a member. There are few people that I esteem so much as Ferdinando for his work and research. I hope, then, that the reader will discover more about IASTE, Institute of High Studies on Terrorism and Insurgency (Istituto di Alti Studi per il Terrorismo e l’Eversione – IASTE). Without further ados, 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, Ferdinando: thank you!

Samantha Newbery | Intelligence, Interrogation and Torture | Intelligence & Interview N.23 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

Intelligence & Interview #23 approaches one of the most controversial ethical topics of intelligence and intelligence studies. Yes, I mean the blurred limit between interrogation and torture. In particular, torture is conceived as part of interrogation. Interrogation does not imply torture, theoretically and practically; however, torture is sometimes used as a tool for interrogators within intelligence contexts. This is true for totalitarian regimes, which do not have to justify their systematic use (though restrictions can be in place). This is sometimes the case for democracies. Even after Cesare Beccaria’s masterpiece, we are still debating if torture can be a tool for interrogators. Few scholars are now more familiar with this crucial topic than Dr Samantha Newbery, Reader at Salford University (Manchester).

Kira Vrist Rønn | Epistemology & Intelligence Ethics | Intelligence & Interview N.20 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

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I’m tremendously excited to publish this wonderful interview with Kira Vrist Rønn, senior lecturer at University College Copenhagen. Professor Vrist Rønn published extensively about the philosophy of intelligence. Specifically, she worked on the epistemology of intelligence and intelligence ethics. These two topics are indeed the core of “Intelligence & Interview N.20”. Though practically oriented, the intelligence studies include an important and – I would add – fundamental theoretical component. Intelligence theory is indeed crucial to understand the practical aspects of the intelligence profession. Is objectivity possible in intelligence analysis? What is intelligence? Is intelligence ethics possible, or is it an unbearable oxymoron? Is intelligence an art or a science? To reply to all these questions, we need to bring philosophical concepts to clarify what intelligence is. Professor Vrist Rønn was a pioneer in this research, and she authored and edited several works (see below). Given my long-lasting research interest in both epistemology and ethics of intelligence, I can only be thrilled by publishing this thought-provoking interview. Recently, Intelligence & Interview N.19 already touched on the epistemology of intelligence. But that was a starter, also considering the different main topics of that issue. This interview goes deeper on the epistemology and ethics of intelligence. Then, it is 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, Kira: thank you!

Giovanni Nacci | OSINT Theory & Intelli|Sfèra | Intelligence & Interview N.16 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is not new anymore. After all, even in Italy, the first Robert Steele’s work translated is almost twenty-year. A great historian such as Christopher Bayly stated that fifty-years is a good parameter to judge the long-term when human history is concerned. Then, OSINT is already old. Sure, the smart reader would say, OSINT is with us since intelligence started. After all, as Giovanni Nacci states in this interview, information is naturally born open, the great majority of the time. Yes, but even considering the OSINT revolution due to the World Wide Web & the ICTs, OSINT is already something mature. It is an intelligence discipline that is taking new ways from the old ones, testifying the livelihood of its evolution through time, as Efren Torres stated in Intelligence & Interview #8. In addition, today, OSINT seems to be the solution for everything, though it looks difficult to be believed looking to the world around us and its ineffable uncertainty and resistance over human capacity to control it. So, today we have an Italian OSINT expert whose passion for the discipline is apparent by all his activities. He is the founder of Intelli|Sfèra, a project entirely devolved to OSINT theory and techniques. This is a fascinating Italian window to an old/new intelligence discipline. Then, it is with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet, is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Dr Giangiuseppe Pili, Giovanni: thank you!

1. How would you like to present yourself to the Italian readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?

I usually introduce myself as a former Italian Navy Officer and enthusiast professional and advisor (since 1998) in theories, methods, and systems for the strategic treatment of information and specialist in Open Source Intelligence applications. I’m a public administration official with about five “lustrum” of administrative proceedings, data protection, Information, and Communication Technology applications. Furthermore, I’m author and co-author of papers, articles, and books about OSINT and creator of the proposal for a “General Theory” for Open Source Intelligence (a summary is available here) and founder of Intelli|sfèra, a cultural project whose aim is the interdisciplinary innovation in the Open Source Intelligence.

Professor Candyce Kelshall e l’Associazione Canadese per la Sicurezza e gli Studi sull’Intelligence | Versione Italiana

Questa è la traduzione dell’originale Intelligence & Interview #11, scritta dalla professoressa Candyce Kelshall sulla Canadian Association for Secrutiy and Intelligence di cui è la presidente. Siamo lieti di pubblicare oggi la traduzione italiana a cura del dott. Giacomo F. Carrus del Team di Scuola Filosofica e coordinatore regionale della Società Italiana di Intelligence (SOCINT). L’intento di Intelligence & Interviews è quello di esplorare temi fondamentali sulla sicurezza, intelligence, tecnologia e filosofia. Essa ha la duplice valenza di portare esperti nazionali all’attenzione internazionale o, viceversa, di dialogare direttamente con professionisti e ricercatori d’eccellenza in campo internazionale. Il progetto si estenderà con la pubblicazione delle interviste in italiano e in inglese in due volumi distinti così da non perdere questa eccezionale esperienza di dialogo internazionale, multilinguistico e disciplinare. Intelligence & Interview è un progetto di ampio respiro sostenuto dall’associazione culturale Azione Filosofica e Scuola Filosofica, con il supporto della Società Italiana di Intelligence e Intelligence Lab. Ideata e realizzata dal Dr Giangiuseppe Pili insieme al Team di Scuola Filosofica. Con questo vi auguriamo una buona lettura!

1. Professoressa Candyce Kelshall, partiamo dalle basi. Come vorrebbe presentarsi ai lettori italiani e a Scuola Filosofica?

Sono istruttrice professionale e accademica nel campo della polizia, delle forze dell’ordine, dell’esercito, dei servizi segreti e del commercio in oltre 17 paesi. Ho insegnato e preparato programmi accademici negli ultimi 14 anni presso l’Università di Buckingham UK, l’Università del Sussex UK, la Rabdan Academy UAE, la Simon Fraser University Canada e il British Columbia Institute of Technology.