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.
The very notion of intelligence is nuanced and broad. An entire branch of intelligence studies is devolved to exploring what intelligence is. This is what Mark Phythian and Peter Gill called “definitional project” in their taxonomy. Several scholars tackled the definition of intelligence, starting with Michael Warner’s pioneering paper Wanted: A definition of intelligence published in 2002 (almost achieving the twenty years anniversary). After him, many more tackled it (be kind if I advertise that I also proposed a philosophical definition of intelligence in 2019). But another crucial topic is the exploration of intelligence analysis functions such as strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence. Interestingly, strategic intelligence is still a difficult nut to be cracked. Probably because of its dependency on theory. Basically, strategic intelligence allows the identification of the enemy’s intentions to avoid surprises at the strategic level. Easy to say, but very difficult to achieve. Indeed, at least in the public debate, there is a sense that the Cold War was a predictable confrontation from a strategic perspective. Unfortunately, strategic intelligence was pursued with risk and uncertainty as everything else in intelligence. Although it is so important, it is still an underexplored topic. When I first read Itai Shapira’s paper, published by Intelligence and National Security (2019, Strategic Intelligence as an Art and a Science), I hoped we could have covered this topic, and now I am even more persuaded of this choice. Sure, the fact that he tackles the issue from theoretical and philosophical perspectives allured me even more. But, as you will see, there is a good reason for tackling strategic intelligence from this angle. Itai helps us understand the nature of strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence with a very innovative (fresh, I would venture to say) approach. 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, Itai: thank you!
1# Itai Shapira, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the International readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?
I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester, studying Israeli national intelligence culture. I am a retired Colonel from the Israeli Defense Intelligence (IDI), where I have served for more than 25 years in various intelligence analysis and management roles – on the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. As a great believer in the dialectic of practice and theory, and after such a long period in the practice of intelligence, I am devoting the current period to a more theoretical perspective, trying to develop some theoretical concepts which in turn could influence practice.
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 Warfare, 4(1), 40–60. https://doi.org/10.21810/jicw.v4i1.2566
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.
Words sometimes are not enough. They are never as such when gratitude is involved. As William Shakespeare said, the words to express love are always a few and always the same. I’m neither Shakespeare nor Dante (to stay closer to my mother-language), but at least you can really have a gist of my own appreciation for this interview.
Dr James Cox is a Brigadier-General (ret.) and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). He is an Adjunct Faculty – Wilfrid Laurier University, and he has too many important positions but, as I’m a member of the International Association of Intelligence Education (IAFIE), at least I must report that he is part of the IAFIE’s Board of Directors as Director, beyond being Chair of the Board of Directors, IAFIE-CANADA. I must confess that Dr Cox is one of the persons with who I can talk forever. Meanwhile, I was preparing my interview, I wrote down at least twenty or so questions, realizing that I couldn’t ask anybody to use so much time, especially in this case. Then, to meet the Intelligence & Interview 10 questions standard, I finally compromised arriving at 12 questions where I tried to explore three topics: Dr Cox’s career and experience in the field, the Canadian intelligence, and intelligence theory.
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!
Pili, Giangiuseppe, (2019) “Is a chess player and intelligence analyst? How to learn from chess how to improve intelligence analysis”, American Intelligence Journal, Vol 36, Issue 2, 74-85
It is with a distinct pleasure and honor that I announce my last publication in the esteemed American Intelligence Journal – The journal for intelligence professionals! AIJ is one of the oldest American journals of intelligence studies and it is one of my favorites. When I read the email today my heart jumped (safely!, safely!). For a young researcher in the field of intelligence grow up with the documentaries of the WWII, and personal appreciation for what US have done during the Cold War, I couldn’t have been more happy to see my name inside that journal. I want personally to thank again many people that helped me in delivering the paper: Michael Landon-Murray (assistant professor), Claudio Selleri (Le Due Torri, Publisher), Herman Grooten (IM, trainer and great chess writer), Uberto Del Prato (CM, and environment intelligence practitioner), Roman Kolodii (intelligent and careful reader), Matteo Canini (neuro-psychologist who provided the psychological literature about chess and intelligence), and last but not least the editor of the journal, professor William Spracher. Thank you all for all your help and support!
It is with my great pleasure to announce my last issue in the International Journal of Intelligence, Security and Public Affairs!: Toward a philosophical definition of intelligence. This is my second paper in the journal and my third on the topic in a peer-reviewed journal (and a new one is coming, so keep in touch!). However, I am particularly proud of this scientific result, as far as the topic is one of the most relevant in the field, as it was defined by Mark Phythian and Peter Gill in one of their best papers. The two scholars stressed the importance of the definitional debate inside the intelligence studies literature. This paper tries to bring analytic philosophy to intelligence as state institution in order to give a new definition of intelligence. I want to thank two anonymous reviewers, who significantly helped me in improving the paper with their comments and suggestions.
What is intelligence? A short question, which is difficult to answer. In fact, there is no general agreement on the definition of intelligence. A good philosophical analysis starts with intuitions, which can be found in the literature. After the recollection of these intuitions and their discussion, it is necessary to add some rational justifications of them. I want to express a general definition of intelligence, whose formulation is indebted to a philosophical analytic approach that considers some different alternatives. Intelligence is a vague word and it has different meanings. In fact, the intelligence studies are so rich but they pose some particular philosophical problems. Philosophy defines complex and complicated words in a simple and coherent way. I want to defend a definition, which is philosophically consistent and meaningful for intelligence studies. Is this a good way to solve such a complex problem? As Ludwig Wittgenstein said: “The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known. Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language”.
Would you like to help the scientific research in the field? Are you interested in chess and intelligence analysis? Please, write to the author (scuolafilosofica_at_gmail.com) and ask him for the first draft of the paper!
Is a chess player an intelligence analyst? Chess is considered one of the most interesting strategic games in the Western culture. Although the artificial intelligence applied to chess beats the world champion since 1997, chess is still one of the most challenging strategic games for our intelligence and understanding. Even though chess is a perfect information game, namely a game in which the players have all the information available at the same time for each position, chess is sufficiently complex and difficult to be unsolvable by sheer calculation. Chess players face uncertainty, tactical dilemmas, strategic conundrums, stress, pressure and great epistemological problems. Chess players deal with these problems all the time and they face them using knowledge and foreknowledge of the opponent’s capability and intentions to try to solve difficult problems in the chessboard. All they have is information to be translated in practical knowledge. They are aware that the opponent will do his/her best to win the game as he/she does. Ultimately, chess players analyze the position and the opponent’s threats and weaknesses in order to ground rational decisions. Intelligence analysts face similar problems to pursue a similar goal and they face them in an analogous fashion. In this paper, I will explore how Grand Master and ordinary chess players analyze the positions from both a strategic and tactical perspectives and I will show how the intelligence analysts can learn from them. After half a century the first chess computer appeared to the scene and hundreds of years of chess studies, we are still learning how to play better in the chessboard. Chess is still the most esteem and competitive game of our culture and it is time to bring it with all its complexity to the intelligence community in order to learn from it.
E’ con mio grande piacere annunciare la pubblicazione del mio articolo Epistemology and intelligence (https://doi.org/10.1080/23800992.2018.1532180) nella rivista internazionale The international Journal of Intelligence, Security, and Public Affairs. Invito tutti gli interessati a segnalarmi eventualmente il loro interesse e nel frattempo li rimando alla pagina del giornale.
Giangiuseppe Pili(2018)Epistemology and Intelligence – Some Philosophical Problems to be Solved,The International Journal of Intelligence, Security, and Public Affairs,20:3,252-270,DOI: 10.1080/23800992.2018.1532180
I want to consider puzzles that must be solved to formulate a theory of epistemology of intelligence. My aim is not to build a theory. I want to create the foundations of a good approach to an epistemological theory of intelligence. To reach this step, unsolved problems must be considered; I formulate them in an analytical manner, that is, I consider them as philosophical puzzles, similar to epistemology. This is the preliminary step toward a new way of thinking about old issues. We must face our primary difficulties in the best manner, that is, we need an epistemology of intelligence.