Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some more thoughts on intelligence

Intelligence as a construct is multi-faceted and often convoluted. There literatures of psychology, biology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, competitive and government intelligence, and others are rich in studies that examine the construct of intelligence. I draw from these disparate literatures to present the view of intelligence as a process signifying ‘intelligent behavior’ rather than as a product of some intelligence activity. The accepted practice of regarding intelligence as a ‘product’ is not merely erroneous, it is dangerous when it accompanies an implied acceptance that the task has been completed and interrelated intelligence mechanisms either shut down or are relegated on to other matters. The Trojan decision to ‘accept’ the gift that had apparently been left behind by a dejected Greek adversary led to an action based on a product of intelligence, i.e., there was little consideration as to what that ‘gift’ might actually represent. The subsequent activity by the men of Ulysses, however, was predicated on an intelligence process. The error begins when information is misrepresented as the intelligence product, especially while the information, and the further intelligence that may become available, is evolving. This was the case in the decisions that led up to the Iraq War, if we were to assume that there were no hidden agendas. Members of the government were presented with, as many have called, “intelligence reports” on Iraq’s weapons capability. This line of thinking favors the product view of intelligence, and is flawed. What was presented to members of the government were “information reports” that needed to be evaluated intelligently! As we now know, this did not happen, instead government officials assumed the reports to be intelligent and did not feel the urge to apply their intelligence on them to draw their own conclusions regarding the information presented.

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