Washington Post, 28 January 2013
No more “high energy” drinks. No more jitters. Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) James Clapper’s office “has embarked on a multi-year research effort to develop and test methods to improve reasoning and problem-solving in healthy, high-performing adults.”
The Monday announcement says that, “If successful, proven methods developed under the Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-solving (SHARP) program may enhance analysts’ capacity to reason through complex, ambiguous and often novel problems common to the Intelligence Community.”
Or maybe not. ODNI’s “Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity” folks have already awarded research contracts — total $12 million in first year and renewable based on performance — to Charles River Analytics, Honeywell Corporation and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to see if it can be done.
Sounds good. Less guesswork and wishful thinking. No Vietnam, no Bay of Pigs, no bailing out British oil companies in Iran in ’53 and no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
Who knows? As long as they figure out how to combine your “enhanced” powers with some medication to fight hubris — and to increase humility about what you think you know and awareness of what you almost certainly don’t know — this could be a game-changer.
Of course, if you’re not “healthy” or “high-performance” already, you may be reduced to thinking up program acronyms.
Phi Beta Iota: This is a tiny microcosm of $75 billion a year in waste. Never mind that the IC has child analysts at CIA and retreads at DIA (while NGA and the NRO specialize in being safety nets for embedded (and failed) military officers who are sent there to use their final uniformed tour to “burrow in” as civilians). Never mind that the IC collects less than 20% of the relevant information and never processes most of that. Never mind that the IC is out of touch with most of the real world and does not allow its Open Source Centre to have overt human sources. Never mind that on virtually every aspect of performance, the IC gets a failing grade against a reasonable standard. Why not spend $12 million a year on cocktails for kids and the senile? It makes as much sense as everything the IC does and does not do.