Robert Garigue, PhD (RIP)
Robert Steele, INFORMATION OPERATIONS: All Information, All Languages, All the Time (Earth Intelligence Network, 2006), pp. xiii-xviii.
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This book is of seminal importance for all organizations. Let me put this in context for you; three revolutions are being expressed in this book. For me, as a computational epistemologist, the most important questions center on 1) how computers create and destroy knowledge or can help identify factual knowledge and false knowledge; 2) on how computers can create organizational efficacy by discovering or inferring new and valid usable knowledge and 3) how new knowledge can identify causes of conflict and avoid wars by creating wealth or facilitating early peaceful preventive measures. This outstanding work and contribution is about this how people in all organizations and communities can change their world through the intelligent development and sharing of knowledge.
In practical matter of fact, computers are critical to all our present knowledge processes. They structure knowledge as well as extend and amplify the sense-making capabilities of individuals, organizations, and communities. Let us not undervalue the fact that all knowledge is also a reflection of the tools that were used to illuminate and elucidate it. The microscope permitted us to explore biology and the telescope helped us to explore cosmology. Today computers and software (which are per se still in their technological infancy) are just starting to enable us to explore and understand the cognitive worlds and belief systems that we have created for ourselves. Constructing better knowledge is fundamental to the survival of humanity, as knowledge is the most critical tool that people use to deal with the problems faced by all communities at every level from neighborhood to global.
Computers are epistemological exploration machines. They are means and ways to investigate the life cycle of knowledge. Right now, these ways and means are still simple but eventually, computational systems will construct valid theories and discover new knowledge all by themselves.
Almost 10 years ago, I stated that the weapons of Information Warfare (IW) weapons would be a composite of Physical, Syntactical, or Semantic weapons of force. The use of a physical weapon will result in the permanent destruction of physical components and potentially a denial of service. A Syntactical weapon will focus on attacking the operating logic of a system and introduce delays, permit unauthorized control and/or create unpredictable behaviors. Finally, a Semantic weapon would focus its effects on destroying the trust and truth maintenance components of a closed and erroneous belief system.
For many years, IW has focused on attacking and defending electronic systems, not on the cognitive substance those systems represent and facilitate. Naturally, the debate on what is the true nature of information warfare has moved on over the course of the last 10 years. Now IW, characterized in that way, is a subset of a much broader debate with regard to what is the computational life cycle of knowledge.
There is still a long way to go in order to understand what is computational knowledge – how it is created, how it is used and transformed, and ultimately how one uses knowledge to displace or destroy other knowledge. It is still in transition mode as seen by the growing role of the Internet, and the availability of accessing terabytes and petabytes of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data and information. However, it is a fundamental issue because new technical revolutions are emerging. The composition of the primary material itself is changing – data and information – are being changed. From “dumb” and passive, they are becoming “smarter” and more “active” because of the rise of the new protocols. The present functionality of the Cyberspace is essentially based on TCP/IP but in the next phase of its evolution, programs will be leveraging all this available XML-based and tagged content.
These new XML protocols cause the context of data and information to be integrated directly into the content. Through Syntax, the Semantics are now accessible. These new semantically-capable computational technologies will permit a completely new range of processing more akin to reasoning than calculating. The use of semantic technologies that automatically create taxonomies and ontologies combined with declarative logic and unsupervised concepts-learning will change both the nature of processing and exploitation of content. This has already started through the tagging of content and linking of concepts. In this new phase of cyber evolution of knowledge, data and information are computationally actionable. In this context, the distinction between what is an application and what is content will be blurred. Enabled by semantic technologies, users of the Internet will be accessing enriched smart data and information via new types of searches engines, smart queries and new varieties of logical and linguistic reasoning.
Naturally, organizations that construct, manage, and use these new understandings have a responsibility to prove and demonstrate the pedigree and legitimacy of that knowledge. We will see the rise and the emergence of semantic management practices in organizations that focus on creating value through the creation of new meanings, new understandings and new solutions. These organizations will be able to ask some most important questions: “What do I know, and what am I not aware of?” “What intentions are behind these events?”, or “Why do these people want to do this?”, “What are the belief systems that explain these behaviors and events? “How do people within these belief systems operate and cause these actions?” “What knowledge needs to be constructed to change a belief system?” Semantic organizations will the ones that can demonstrate how their knowledge was created as well as deliver on society’s expectancies of trust and truthfulness that are associated with any of their assertions.
It is from within this technological evolutionary process that a different complexity level and another revolution emerge. From an incomplete debate on Information Warfare (IW), we now have to evolve toward an understanding of what Information Peacekeeping (IPK) has to propose as it is a new organizational capability that emerges from within this new technological reality. Alvin and Heidi Toffler have spoken of information as a substitute for violence and as a means of creating wealth. IPK is the actualization of those earlier thoughts. C.K Prahalad talks to the power of exchange and markets to address poverty. These authors talk to the power of information.
As such, Robert Steele has not written this book as an elaboration of the other side of information warfare. Information Peacekeeping is not a converse of Information Warfare. Information Peacemaking is a revolution within the meta-strategy of Information Operations. Information Peacekeeping is about new capacities of action that come from creating new meanings and understandings through the knowledge processes of an organization. The challenge of Information Peacekeeping is how to use the power of the cyberspace and leverage the grid – the infrastructure – and its content – the infostructure – to act with effect on the social, cultural, and political spaces of communities as well as within cognitive and belief systems of individuals. Information Peacekeeping enable an organization to leverage a belief system to create action at a distance – this effect is the equivalent of what is entanglement is in quantum physics.
If Information Warfare is about destroying the infrastructure of knowledge and false belief systems then the prime objective of Information Peacekeeping is to help us understand the processes that create valid knowledge and more truthful and trustworthy belief systems. As such, it is a much more critical and difficult process. All these processes need to be coordinated not just within the inter-agency boundaries of a single Nation, but across all Nations. Therefore, the new and much larger role of Information Operations is to orchestrate the use of both the processes of destruction through Information Warfare and also the processes of the creation of new potentials and new understandings through Information Peacekeeping.
Also, because IO in an integrative meta-strategical framework, it extends beyond just one organization. IO is not just the domain of one group or simply a national government function. To be effective it has to be democratized into all fields of human activities. IO needs to integrate medical, social, economic, geographic, political, cultural and religious data, information and events. IO will demand the reform of organizations along with a new set of shared accountabilities. The complexity of the problem begets the complexity of the organization that will try to manage it. IO = IP + IW, as it is presented here, can and will deliver a new capacity. The Promise of IO is to correct false beliefs and transform faulty belief systems through a process of discovery and communication of factual new knowledge. Moreover, through this there can be new understandings as to how best to resolve the causes of conflict and war. Information Warfare and Information Peacekeeping are powerful concepts that recast and reframe the present strategic analysis processes and the behaviors and budgets that follow from decisions supported by good analysis.
Robert Steele’s book finally breaks through the present approaches to strategic analysis, and delivers a Strategic Imagination capability with an integrative and holistic analytical process. The Information Operations, analytical framework, as presented in this book, does more than just integrate the roles of Information Warfare and Information Peacekeeping into a total continuum of conflict management and conflict resolution. Robert Steele presents the road map to follow to get to these higher levels of technical and organizational performance. In the coming age of semantic organizations, where worldwide access will be considered a universal right, militaries and governments will have to operate at new levels of situational awareness to ensure a safer, productive, and sustainable quality of life for all communities.
Robert Garigue PhD.
Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago 2005