[Editor’s note: This is the first in a new column series from the pragmatic visionaries at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development for edtech digest]
“The availability of technologies to youth is its own instructor.” –Nobelist Herbert A. Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001), Author of Science of the Artificial and a Father of Artificial Intelligence
EXTRACT: TOYS MIRROR WHAT’S NEXT IN TECHNOLOGY
In the same way that Erector Sets were patterned after the technologies of the third phase of the industrial revolution, the LEGO MindStorms kits reflect the structure of emerging technology and careers in the 21st Century. In 2006, Nano Quest from FIRST Robotics enabled students to program LEGO robots to mimic biological, chemical, and physical systems across micro-, meso-, and nano-scales.
I have begun drafting my portion of the new Handbook of Intelligence Studies (Routledge, 2013), it is a chapter early on entitled “The Craft of Intelligence.” I pick up where Allen Dulles and Sherman Kent left off. My graphic on Intelligence Maturity captures the essence of my thinking at the strategic level, but of course there is more to come, including the desperate need to restore integrity to all that we do.
In 1988 I ghost-wrote for the Commandant of the Marine Corps an article that he enhanced and signed, “Global Intelligence Challenges in the 1990’s.” At that time my focus was on the difference between the conventional threat and the emerging unconventional threat.
Now my focus is on the purpose and process of intelligence as decision-support. We must — we will — move from secret intelligence for the few to open intelligence for the many; from expensive centralized largely worthless intelligence to free and low-cost distributed intelligence relevant to every person at every level on every issue; from intelligence as window-dressing for channeling $80 billion a year to banks and corporations, to intelligence as an integral element of every aspect of a Smart Nation.
This article is completely out of touch with reality and the authors have not bothered to familiarize themselves with the literatures pertinent to their endeavor. Out of 89 cited sources 12 are non-intelligence-related prior publications of the lead author, 1 is a prior publication of the second author, and 11 are ostensibly about intelligence but truly marginal selections. So 12% sources on the subject, 13% self-citation, and 75% escoteric psycho-babble irrelevant to the actual challenge. As an intelligence professional, I am offended that two ostensibly erudite individuals would dare to publish this trype without even a semblance of understanding of the subject under discussion.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) rose to prominence in an era of uncontested budget growth (including a borrowed trillion dollars a year) and uncontested airspace. That era is now over.
There will still be a place for mico-UAVs, especially in direct support of small unit operations, but neither the US military nor the US secret intelligence world consider infantry solutions to be “expensive enough” to be worth doing well.
For those who lack the sophistication to hack control over a UAV and force its undamaged landing, Electromagnetic Pulse rays remain the generic counter-measure that will proliferate rapidly.
Pakistan: Any unmanned aerial vehicles, including US UAVs, entering Pakistani air space will be treated as hostile and shot down per a new defense policy, a senior Pakistani official said on 10 December.
Comment: Pakistani forces lack the capabilities to execute the directive as announced, but the loss of one or two drones would be enough to curtail the program because of the expense from multiple aircraft losses. The program is not sustainable in contested airspace. This declaration has been coming for a very long time.
Algeria-US-France: For the record. US and French unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will not be allowed to fly over Algeria’s southern airspace to counter weapons smuggling from Libya, according to El Khabar newspaper. Algeria will increase its reconnaissance of UAV air surveillance operations.
Comment: The Iranians will be quick to disseminate any insights they developed in downing a US reconnaissance drone. Algeria might not yet have Iran’s insights but it is showing that it is open to Iranian help.
One of the most pervasive features of computing culture are algorithms, the sets of processes or instructions contained in computer code that determine how a particular task will be completed. While algorithms power everything from your automatic coffee maker to your smart phone, because they are frequently hidden from their users, it can be easy to ignore these algorithms and their impact on how we gain access to information.
One of the areas where algorithms have the most impact is on our information search and retrieval practices. Online search is dominated by complex searching algorithms, the most well-known of which is Google’s PageRank. While there are many different ways of thinking about these search algorithms, from the standpoint of digital literacy it is fascinating to see the extent to which these alogrithms have been accepted as reliable stand-ins for other forms of information seeking. One reason for this substitution is that they are, on the whole, quite good at finding and serving us the information that we want. Another is the long-standing cultural assumption that computers (and many other forms of technology) are objective means of accessing information.