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The role of technology in intelligence practice: Linking the developer and the user perspectives

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The role of technology in intelligence practice: Linking the developer and the user perspectives

Abstract

Technology has penetrated the social fabric of security practices so deeply that it is often used without much reflection on its role, significance and implications. This naturalisation of technology makes it difficult for practitioners to develop their own vision of technology. They may become subject to the coercive power of technology, and appropriate the narrow technological paradigm embodied in their tools. This, in turn, makes it difficult for technology developers to understand practitioner needs and to assess the transformative potential of technology. This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the role of technology in intelligence. The focus is on the technological capabilities supporting an analysis of sociocultural processes related to so-called 'new threats'. The two main problems in intelligence nowadays are deciding what data are relevant and how they should be analysed. The major issue is not the collection of information, but turning information into knowledge and action. Accordingly, the practitioner thinking about technological tools can be usefully informed by the concept of technology as a mediator between areas of knowledge production and consumption. This concept highlights technology's ability to affect intelligence analysts' understanding of threats, identification of data sources and information gaps, and their interaction with colleagues and consumers of intelligence products.
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
1
The role of technology in intelligence practice:
linking the developer and the user perspectives
Lucy Resnyansky
Abstract
Technology has penetrated the social fabric and security practices so deeply that it is often used without much
reflection on its role, significance and implications. This naturalisation of technology makes it difficult for the
practitioners to develop their own vision of technology. They may become subject to the coercive power of
technology, and appropriate the narrow technological paradigm embodied into the tools. This, in turn, makes it
difficult for technology developers to understand the practitioner needs and to assess the transformative potential of
technology. This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the role of technology in
intelligence. The focus is on the technological capabilities supporting an analysis of sociocultural processes related to
so-called new threats. One of the main problems for intelligence nowadays is to decide what can be considered
relevant data and how it should be analysed. The major issue is not the collection of information but turning it into
knowledge and action. Accordingly, the practitioner thinking about technological tools can be usefully informed by
the concept of technology as a mediator between areas of knowledge production and consumption. This concept
highlights technology’s ability to affect intelligence analysts’ understanding of threats, identification of data sources
and information gaps, and their interaction with colleagues and consumers of intelligence products.
Introduction
Like art and religion, technology is an integrated part of a culture. (Rivers, 2005, p. 567)
Disputes that may appear to be a matter of semantics are, at a deeper level, disputes about the
meaning of technology in our lives. (Thompson, 1991, p. 37)
In order to develop concrete courses of action, measures of effectiveness, and sound government
polices regarding research and development priorities, it is necessary to approach technology as a
factor that transforms work activities and introduces social, cultural, and organisational changes.
This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the role of technology in
intelligence. The focus is on technological capabilities that support an analysis of sociocultural
processes related to so-called new threats.
It seems to be widely acknowledged that Information and Communications Technologies
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
2
(ICTs) play a key role in shaping the character of contemporary society (Bijker and Law, 1992;
Castells 1996, 2001; Poster, 2001). This has been reflected in the names given to the
techno-economic system that has emerged in the second half of the twentieth century the
Information Age, the Network Society, and so on. Nevertheless, social scholars of technology
argue that the impact of science and technology on different aspects of society needs to be made
more visible and is yet to be properly explored. Technology is still outside the mainstream research
on sociocultural changes in many social disciplines. For example, Charles Weiss (2005) argues,
science and technology have had a fundamental and pervasive influence on various aspects of
international affairs, changing the structure of the international system, relations among its actors,
diplomacy, war, administration, trade, and the gathering of intelligence. Nevertheless, it is difficult
for international relations analysts and practitioners to consider science and technology as a factor
affecting international affairs. This is because the science and technology topic is largely beyond
consideration within disciplines that traditionally have informed the international relations area,
such as political economy, history, political science, and sociology. Weiss suggests that, in order
to be taken into account, science and technology need to be conceptualised from the international
relations perspective.
Similarly, technology has not been conceptualised from the intelligence perspective. Rather,
there is a powerful trend within contemporary research on intelligence and technology to represent
technology as having universal applicability and meaning, regardless of the context in which it is
used:
The shape of tomorrow’s intelligence architecture is already discernible. Secure intranets, adapted to
commercially available software and Web-systems, which find, organise, filter and analyse
information are now in common use. Classified and unclassified material, including imagery, Sigint,
Elint and Masint, are available literally at the touch of a key. Small, hand-held personal digital
assistants that give soldiers in the field access to huge databases using web-enabled, wireless
communications, are transforming the use of intelligence at the operational level of war. Advanced
search engines and text analysis tools like Pathfinder are having a similar effect in the strategic
domain, allowing analysts to swiftly extract useable intelligence from large amount of data. (Dupont
2003, p. 28)
This paper aims to argue that, in order to consider technology as a factor of change within the
intelligence practice, it needs to be conceptualised from the perspective of this practice. While
reflecting the nature of the intelligence practice and being shaped by the practitioners’ needs, this
concept should be addressed to technology developers.
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
3
Theoretical background
This paper draws upon three interrelated approaches. First, it draws upon the concept of tool as a
mediator developed in an activity theory (Vygotsky, 1986; Leontiev, 1978; Engeström, 1987;
Wertch, 1991). This concept highlights the sociocultural nature of tools and the active role of
instrumentalities in shaping the subject’s ways of acting upon objects and interacting with other
social actors (Bødker, 1990; Nardi, 1997; Resnyansky, 2008, 2010a; Shchedrovitsky, 2005-2007).
Also, this study draws upon the concept of socio-technical system developed within the
areas of organisational development and workplace studies (Garcia et al, 2006; Luff et al, 2000).
According to this concept, it is essential that the design of and evaluation of systems (tools) has
been informed by an analysis of the particular context in which a system will be deployed (Bedny
and Karkowski, 2007; Bennett and Resnyansky, 2006; Jirotka and Wallen, 2000; Woodward et al,
2001). The heuristic significance of the concept of a socio-technical system is in that it enables
approaching a piece of technology as an active participant of a system of social activity
(Resnyansky, 2010a).
Finally, this paper draws upon a concept of technology as a sociocultural construct that
embodies particular groups’ values and interests. According to the social constructivist approach,
the properties and effects of technology can be attributed to social biases and politics built into
them (Bijker, Pinch, and Hughes, 1987; MacKenzie and Wajcman, 1985). Technology allows for
different interpretations of its functional, sociocultural, and even technical properties, and what
technology is depends upon its interpretation as constructed by relevant social groups (Cawson,
Haddon, and Miles, 1995; Kling, 1996; Winner, 1991; Woolgar, 1991).
The social constructivist paradigm provides a good theoretical and methodological
foundation for an exploration of technology as an integral part of specific practices. It implies that
the main research task lies in understanding how technological tools can be interpreted by different
groups within specific contexts, and in using this understanding to inform the development of
technological capabilities. It is not, however, easy to implement this research program. As Introna
(2009) maintains, “so many potentially important scripts are increasingly difficult to understand,
even for the experts” (p. 28). It may not always be clear who the relevant groups are. The
naturalisation of the technologist and marketing discourses on ICTs within different areas of
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
4
practice makes it difficult for particular groups of practitioners to develop their own vision of
technology. Rather, together with the majority of society, they are likely to become subject to
technology’s coercive power, and appropriate the technological paradigm embodied into the tools
(Burbules and Callister, 2000; Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000; Roszak, 1986; Rushkoff, 1999).
This, in turn, makes it difficult for technology developers to understand the practitioner needs and
to assess the transformative potential of technology.
Linking technology and intelligence
The nature of the problems emerging in relation to a changing technology-security landscape
stimulates interdisciplinary research and dialogue. Forums are organised and papers are written
highlighting the importance of bringing together the efforts of engineers, computational scientists,
social scientists, and practitioners such as intelligence analysts, defence managers, politicians and
government officials (Berkowitz, 2008; Michael and Michael, 2007, 2008; Nau and Wilkenfeld,
2007; Patil et al., 2005; Subrahmanian and Kruglanski, 2008; Threat Anticipation: Social Science
Methods and Model, 2005; Turnley and Perls, 2008). The forums focus on new technological
applications and computational methods, practitioners’ needs and concerns, and new possibilities
and challenges that technology may bring to practice. There is, however, a significant difference
between the interacting areas (research, development and practice) regarding the foci of
consideration and the issues they are concerned with.
Within the research and development area, thinking about technology is grounded within the
epistemological and methodological principles of natural and computational sciences. Discussion
of capabilities enabling intelligence and national security analysis is conducted in terms of general
epistemological principles, classes of problems, and specific mathematical and computational
methods and techniques (Chen and Xu, 2006; Cioffi-Revilla and O’Brien, 2007; Turnley and Perl,
2008). For example, Chen and Xu (2006) focus on knowledge database discovery (KDD)
techniques, arguing that these techniques “can play a central role in improving the
counter-terrorism and crime-fighting capabilities of intelligence and security agencies by reducing
cognitive and information overload” (p. 235). This argument has been grounded in a claim that
these techniques were successfully applied in areas such as marketing, finance, manufacturing,
and biology, enabling to extract useful knowledge from large collections of raw data. “Knowledge
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
5
discovery usually consists of multiple stages, including data selection, data preprocessing, data
transformation, data mining, and the interpretation and evaluation of patterns” (p. 235). Having
suggested, that intelligence and security informatics (ISI) can be based on the KDD technologies,
Chen and Xu distinguish between the following classes of ISI technologies: “information sharing
and collaboration, crime association mining, spatial and temporal crime pattern mining, and
criminal network mining” (p. 235).
Within the area of intelligence research, the conceptualisation of the practice is shaped by an
insider perspective and is grounded within the model of the intelligence cycle:
Any theory of strategic intelligence must take into account the so-called intelligence cycle, a model
that describes the sequence of activities that carries intelligence from the initial planning stages all
the way to a finished product ready for the consideration of decision-makers at the highest councils
of government. The cycle consists of five phases: planning and direction, collection, processing,
production and analysis, and dissemination. Each phase involves behaviour that must be taken into
account by intelligence theorists. In reality, the intelligence “cycle” is less a series of smoothly
integrated phases, one leading to another, than a complex matrix of back-and-forth interactions
among intelligence officers (the “producers” of intelligence) and the policy officials they serve (the
“consumers”). This matrix a composite of intricate human and bureaucratic relationships is
characterized by interruptions, midcourse corrections, and multiple feedback loops. Even though
reductionist, the concept of a cycle remains analytically useful, drawing attention to the process of
intelligence. Conceptually, the cycle provides at least a rough approximation of how intelligence
professionals think of their work. (L.K. Johnson, 2009, p. 34).
The role of technology is discussed mainly in relation to data collection and processing. This
discussion is also shaped by what specialists call INTs, or intelligence disciplines” (Berkowitz,
2008, p. 38), such as SIGINT (signals intelligence), IMINT (imagery intelligence), GEOINT
(geospatial intelligence), MASINT (measurement and signatures intelligence, HUMINT
(intelligence collected by human beings), and OSINT (open source intelligence).
The intelligence-specific conceptualisations of practice are brought together with the
categorisations of technology borrowed from such fields as electronic engineering,
telecommunications, and computational science. For example, Bruce Berkowitz (2008) maintains
that intelligence technologies fit into four basic categories: sensors that collect data (optical,
electronic, etc); platforms that carry sensors (ships, satellites, etc); information and
communication technologies that process and transfer data and “finished intelligence”; and
“enabling devices” (cameras, covert communications, etc).
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
6
In general, the technologies that the intelligence community uses are not that much different
from what is understood in the outside world, and the intelligence community depends more
than ever on the R&D base that everyone else draws from. The differences lie in their
specialized features and how quickly they are delivered into operation relative to the usual
pace of technology development. (Berkowitz, 2008, p. 38)
There is a good understanding within intelligence research, that “[O]rganizational structure
is not neutral. Without question structure favors certain interests and facilitates specific kinds of
communication and control” (Hastedt and Skelley, 2009, p. 115). Technology, however, is
perceived as a neutral instrument rather than a factor that may also contribute to the balance of
interests and power, and the ways in which practitioners interact and communicate: “Modern
writing on the information revolution suggests that the real problems in exploiting it to the full are
managerial and human rather than technical (Herman, 2003, p. 57).
Intelligence analysis as an activity of knowledge production
Researchers and practitioners argue that intelligence is undergoing a paradigmatic change (Gill
and Phythian, 2006; Treverton and Gabbard, 2008). This is partly due to the changing nature of
threats and threatening actors, and partly due to the changing information landscape. The ICTs
have launched an era of transparency, creating new opportunities and challenges for security and
intelligence: While some might believe that intelligence is immune to such developments, it is
actually in many ways driven by transparency (O’Connell, 2005, p.143). In today’s world, argues
Treverton (2003), intelligence business should be less about collection and secrets and more about
information defined as a high-quality understanding of the world using all sources, where secrets
matter much less and where selection is the critical challenge (p.98). Due to the changing nature
of threats, intelligence data gathering and analysis need to draw upon diverse sources of data:
research literature, media, computerised databases, websites, and so on (Pillar, 2004). The
previously sharp distinction between collection and analysis is blurring, particularly when the
Internet is used as a source of information. Schmitt (2005) argues that it is necessary to change the
traditional intelligence mindset based on a positivist understanding of data as objective facts
existing independent of the observer. Initially, he says, the intelligence community acquired this
mindset in order to break away from the intelligence-policy maker nexus. The positivist mindset,
however, may significantly restrict analysts’ understanding of what is useful or relevant
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
7
information. For example, the Internet needs to be explored as a social practice of identity
construction and community formation (Bailey and Grimaila, 2006; Weimann, 2006; Whine,
1999a, 1999b). In this kind of analysis, technological aspects of the Internet, such as hyperlinks
and multimodality, need to be interpreted as manifestations of the social practices, such as the
naturalisation of selected ideas and the legitimisation of certain sources of authority and truth. It is
important for intelligence practitioners to adopt the view of the Internet as a locus of the
reproduction of social subjects and structures (Atran 2006; Resnyansky, 2009a). Can
technological tools enabling information extraction and analysis allow for an acquisition of this
view? Or do they hinder the proliferation of this view by encouraging the intelligence community
to approach the Internet merely as a source of information?
In order to effectively deal with new threats, it is not enough to analyse ‘indications and
warnings’ related to the activity of concrete actors (individuals and organisations). It is also
necessary to understand the social, economic, political, cultural and ideological causes and factors
that can contribute to the emergence of threatening actors and, most importantly, those that prevent
them from emerging (Crelinsten, 2009; Resnyansky, 2009b). Without understanding these causes
and factors, democratic societies may not be able to solve the problem of political violence and
social instability. Hence, they may always have to deal with the consequences in the form of
violent events and disintegrated social actors. The activity of intelligence analysis needs, therefore,
to be enhanced by social science methodology, i.e., a methodology grounded within the principle
of understanding.
The literature on intelligence research is crowded with case studies of intelligence failures
whence failure is defined as the inability to predict certain events. Such studies provide
retrospective analyses of specific cases with the purpose of learning lessons. This stream of
writing on intelligence can also provide a useful insight into the nature of intelligence analysis as a
kind of activity unable to predict events in the same way as natural sciences can predict the
behaviour of physical systems. According to theoreticians of intelligence, intelligence failures are
inevitable (Betts, 2009). Understanding and exploratory analysis are becoming particularly
important due to the changing nature of threats. This traditional epistemological culture of
intelligence may be affected by tools that introduce the natural science methodological paradigm,
with such requirements as validation, verification, and prediction. It is beyond the scope of this
paper to discuss whether this change would be for better or worse its purpose is to argue that the
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
8
role of technology can be crucial in this process.
Intelligence practice as a communicative interaction
In order to understand how different kinds of technological capabilities may affect the proposed
profound change of intelligence practice, this change needs to be interpreted as a choice of a model
of social (communicative) interaction (Resnyansky, 2010b). Communicative interaction can be
described according to an information-cybernetic (parcel-post) model. Having been initially
suggested as a model of signal transmission in telecommunication systems, the parcel-post model
has also been used as a basic model for understanding human communication. In order to reflect
the specificity of human communication as a contextualised interaction of social subjects mediated
by socioculturally specific representation systems, alternative interactionist models of human
communication have been proposed Riva and Galimberti, 2001). The interactionist models aim to
emphasise that both the sender and the receiver can actively participate in the construction of
meaning and that the receiver’s role is even more important, since the final result of
communication depends on the receiver’s interpretation of the message. It has been argued,
however, that the information-cybernetic model can serve as a metaphor reflecting patterns of
routine communication within stable hierarchical structures such as military institution,
classroom, and so on (Cherry 1967). Within this kind of structure, one of the participants is
positioned as a source of information, instructions and control and the other as a passive receiver,
which results in ineffective transmission of information. This model affirms the supremacy of the
information sender. The naturalisation of the information-cybernetic metaphor of communication
can, therefore, contribute to the reproduction of the relationships of inequity, power hierarchy, and
control (Duncan 1967). This model does not encourage innovative dialogue and creative
perception of information; on the contrary, there is a bigger chance for misunderstanding and a
considerable loss of information in this situation. In the context of this paper, this model’s ability
to serve as a matrix enabling certain kinds of social relationships and information behaviour is
particularly relevant.
Organisational dynamics and politics play an important role in intelligence business. There
are different opinions regarding the vertical (centralised) and the horizontal (network) models of
intelligence (Berkowitz and Goodman, 200; Hastedt and Skelley, 2009; Herman, 2003). The
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
9
proponents of a centralised model of intelligence argue that in modern conditions, an
understanding of the implications of ICTs cannot be informed by a concept of intelligence as
having more to do ‘with the short-term, rapid turnaround varieties of tactical and operational
intelligence in the battlefield than the work and product of national intelligence communities’
(Davies, 2002, p.315). From the tactical commander perspective, however, the centralised
intelligence architecture may look inefficient, mainly because it does not enable a productive
dialogue between analysts and consumers:
The distant analyst often has little visibility or understanding of exactly why the tactical consumer is
asking for the information, the impact of the data, or how to package information so it is actionable
for the ground commander.
For example, if the tactical consumer in his formalized collections request asks for information
regarding the presence of armoured vehicles at a given set of coordinates, the analyst looks for and
reports on that particular informational request at the specific place not on the implied request for
trafficability, presence of an artillery battery 10 kilometers away, or the presence or absence of a
bridge or tactical fortifications. The communications connectivity and permissions rarely exist for a
direct and timely dialogue between the tactical commander and the distant analyst to define and
refine the evolving needs of the consumer. (Howcroft, 2007, p. 21)
The model of vertically integrating intelligence collection and analysis has also been
criticised in the context of new threats to national security. New models are being proposed, such
as distributed intelligence networks supporting the exchange of information between decentralised
groups of intelligence practitioners and subject matter experts (Atran, 2006). It is important to
assess technological capabilities as tools that may embody a particular metaphor of
communicative interaction.
Representation and consumption of knowledge
Knowledge representation and exchange are always mediated by technologies, the most ‘basic’
being human language and the word processor (Halliday 1985; Halliday and Martin, 1993; Kress,
2003; Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). Therefore, the results of intelligence analysis are shaped, among
other things, by patterns of dealing with knowledge that is offered together with the technologies.
Intelligence practitioners require knowledge that is compact and ‘easy-to-use’, yet retaining its
scientific rigor and epistemological significance. They need knowledge that enables the
development of better situation awareness and an understanding of the effects of their own and
others’ actions. They need tools that enable them to process information in an effective and
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
10
purposeful way, without an ever-increasing amount of time being spent on information gathering.
Intelligence practitioners need methodologies that help restore the whole picture from fragmented
data. They need technological capabilities which enable a systematic and comprehensive
application of rigorous scientific knowledge within the intelligence area. They need tools which
help transform raw information into a high-quality intelligence product.
Information extraction tools assist the user in finding huge amounts of data. In the process of
consumption by analysts and decision-makers, the data has to be transformed, increasing its
chances of being distorted, lost, over-generalised, pushed beyond its limits, and applied
uncritically and incorrectly. Scientifically rigorous knowledge, once transferred to the area of
practice, may lose its rigor and meaning. Knowledge produced within different disciplinary areas
needs to be linked and integrated. It often needs to be compressed, in order to be displayed in dot
points on one screen of a PowerPoint presentation a format that many of us (including decision
makers) are more willing, or able, to perceive. Deficiencies may occur during the course of
processing knowledge into a form suitable for those who have no time or background for a deeper
exploration of issues (Tufte 2003).
There is, of course, a human and political dimension to this process, as the selection of
versions of reality and the interpretation of existing information is strongly affected by parties’
narrow political interests, personal ambitions and power games within organisations. However,
these issues are beyond the scope of this paper. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the role of
technology as one more player that can contribute to the interplay of organisational, psychological,
and cultural factors.
Knowledge representation and transmission
The mainstream explanation for why intelligence business requires technological support refers to
the large amount, diversity and complexity of data. It is argued that practitioners require tools that
use mathematical techniques to find patterns of behaviour in large datasets. They also need tools
that enable them to analyse that behaviour. In literature, one can find comprehensive outlines of
two kinds of technological tools that can facilitate these kinds of activity: information extraction
and modelling and simulation tools. Information extraction tools can be used to find data presented
in open sources, such as news websites, blogs, newsgroups, social network sites, virtual worlds,
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
11
online games and videogames. These tools are suggested as aids for analysts to obtain data on
media and public opinion, get information about specific groups in different parts of the world, or
research violent events (Albanese and Subrahmanian, 2007; Fayzullin et al., 2007). Modelling is
the application of computational methods in order to facilitate an analysis of multiple and diverse
data, and to understand what kinds of data may be missing. Modelling tools aim to let analysts and
decision-makers experiment and explore different possible scenarios (Epstein, 2006; J. Johnson,
2008).
This distinction makes sense from the development perspective. However, it is not that
significant from the perspective of understanding how technology can affect intelligence practice.
In this respect, it is important that both of these kinds of tools are based on conceptual models of
social phenomena. In the case of modelling and simulation tools, it is understood that their key
component is a conceptual (social science) model of the modelled processes (Resnyansky, 2008;
Turnley and Perl, 2008). Similarly, the information extraction tools should be based on conceptual
models. For example, Chen and Xu (2006) propose that the development tools for gathering,
processing and analysing data on terrorism can be grounded within a concept of terrorism as a
form of organised crime. Nevertheless, the perception of information extraction tools as pure tools
to get ‘data’ is quite common. This perception may contribute to the belief that the main thing
about data collection is the amount of information sources processed. Also, the perception of these
tools as neutral tools may contribute to a proliferation of naïve notions of social phenomena.
In the knowledge society, practice needs to be turned into scientifically saturated activity.
However, scientific knowledge exists in forms that make it difficult to be consumed (Epstein
2006). Technological capabilities modelling in particular may help create a bridge between the
areas of knowledge production (research) and knowledge application (intelligence practice). It is
necessary to use social science knowledge in order to deal with the kinds of threats that emerge in
the last two decades. However, this knowledge cannot be applied so easily when theoretical
models and case studies are represented in traditional forms such as hundred-page volumes,
specialised journal papers, and extended reports. Finding relevant knowledge, assessing its
heuristic significance, and applying it rigorously to a specific case is a complex task that often
requires interdisciplinary efforts. Modelling and simulation tools may help integrate rigorous
social scientific knowledge into intelligence and political decision-making.
Turning intelligence practice into a scientifically-saturated activity implies the adoption of a
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
12
critical reflection stance towards the knowledge and data used by analysts, as well as towards their
assumptions and pre-conceptions. Intelligence analysts need to critically reassess those
assumptions that shape representations of events and actors within various discursive practices
from social scientific research to media, from statistical data to politicians’ public speeches. In
particular, analysts need to critically re-examine the heuristic significance of fundamental
concepts that have been naturalised within the mainstream socio-political and ideological
discourse. For example, it is useful to critically assess the relevance and heuristic significance of
such concepts as ethnicity, culture, and civilisation that are used in order to explain the processes
and behaviour at different levels societal, group, and individual (Resnyansky, 2009b).
Practices are sociocultural, historically specific activities conducted within concrete
institutional settings and affected by the current political and ideological situations, individual
biases, preferences, tacit assumptions, and the availability of resources (Schatzki et al., 2001). The
intelligence practice is not an exclusion (George and Bruce, 2008; Phythian, 2008). As several
case studies have demonstrated, “leaders, policy makers and other consumers of intelligence may
choose to use, abuse or ignore it, depending upon their own predilection, prejudices, biases, or
political agendas, and sometimes altering the original intent of the intelligence” (Poteat, 2000,
p.1). Intelligence practitioners need instruments that facilitate their critical reflection on their
assumptions and conceptual models available to them due to organisational traditions, political
conjuncture or ideological fashion. Collective production of knowledge is a problem when the
participants of interaction belong to different organisational and epistemological cultures, such as
intelligence, policy-makers and social researchers and computational scientists. It is necessary to
develop ways of effective knowledge compression. Modelling tools may be a good solution if
they offer theoretically sound interpretational frameworks. In this way, they can help reduce the
‘noise’ (e.g., analysts’ subjective opinions, ideological biases, or organisational views) that might
otherwise be introduced into the process of knowledge interpretation.
Conclusion
Technology affects intelligence analysts’ understanding of problems, formulation of questions,
identification of data sources and gaps, and the communication of intelligence analysis results.
Therefore, the development of technological capabilities needs to be shaped by the intelligence
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
13
practitioners’ needs. However, it is not easy to understand what vision of the practitioners’ needs is
more relevant, nor to incorporate this knowledge into the development, assessment and
implementation processes. Within intelligence research, the discussion of information technology
is often shaped by the need to advocate for a particular way of doing things. The categorisations of
technology proposed for intelligence analysis and decision-making imply that the intelligence
researchers’ thinking is shaped by the technologist discourse. The uncritical acceptance of this
discourse does not allow for an adequate understanding of the practitioners’ needs. This may result
in ineffective tools being offered to practitioners under the pretext that they help address new
threats and challenges.
In order to understand the implications of the technologisation of intelligence practice, both
the intelligence practice and the technology need to be linked on the basis of an intermediate
conceptual framework. This paper suggests that the development of such framework can be
grounded within the view of intelligence practice as: an activity of knowledge production; a
process of social (communicative) interaction; and as activities of knowledge representation and
consumption. Accordingly, technologies have to be approached as: tools embodying particular
epistemological cultures; tools imposing particular models of communication and social
interaction; and mediators between knowledge producers and knowledge consumers.
This framework can be used to enable collaborative interaction between intelligence
practitioners and interdisciplinary research teams aiming to develop such technological tools. The
proposed framework can help formulate requirements to technology developers in terms that
reflect the intelligence community’s perspective but are not too specific. In particular, the
assessment of the impact of technology may be enhanced due to the adoption of the concept of
technology as a mediator between the area of scientific knowledge production (science) and
knowledge consumption (intelligence analysis and communication of its results to
decision-makers).
Modelling and simulation tools are a promising means for an integration of social science
knowledge into intelligence practice and political decision-making. Modelling tools can represent
knowledge in a compact yet theoretically and methodologically rigorous way. Due to the
conceptual frameworks embodied in the models, these tools can enable practitioners to approach
the chaotic world of information with more rigor, as well as to critically reflect on their own
assumptions and problem statements. Practitioners and social scientists both need to be actively
Authors post-print. To cite this paper: Resnyansky, L., 2010, The role of technology in intelligence
practice: linking the developer and the user perspectives, Prometheus, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 361-374
14
involved in the process of technological development. Practitioners need to stop expecting
‘off-the-shelf’ technological capabilities, while technology developers need to more actively
incorporate the sociocultural vision of technology in the development process.
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19
... (Munoz, 2008, p. 46) The use of new technologies for information extraction, surveillance, identification and screening have generated debates about their social implications, their effects on individuals' privacy and the balance between governments' power and citizens' freedom (Strickland et al, 2005). An important issue is the moral responsibility of the technology community, as well as the need to answer the society's concerns when technological tools are designed, evaluated, and used in particular institutional settings (Resnyansky, 2010). It may be difficult for technology developers to identify social and ethical issues that may become evident in the process of the tools' implementation and use. ...
... However, it is not easy to transform this general requirement into a set of methodological statements and procedures enabling the team to proceed further than the 'human baseline' (see, e.g., Hall et al, 2007). The concepts of human and social that come from the technologist area have a limited heuristic value for an understanding of the technology's sociocultural effects (Resnyansky, 2010). In addition, the evaluation of a system may be shaped by the market-oriented image of a system that has been skilfully constructed and actively promoted by the manufacturer. ...
... This concept of sociotechnical systems draws upon the social constructivist tradition in the philosophy of technology and sociology of science, discourse theory, and activity theory (Bijker, Pinch & Hughes 1987;van House 2004). This approach has been applied to the analysis of terrorism models (Resnyansky 2006(Resnyansky , 2008(Resnyansky , 2009(Resnyansky , 2010, and to the study of identification and body screening technologies in security practices (Bennett and Resnyansky 2006;Hall et al 2007;Resnyansky and Bennett 2004). This approach helps understand how the use of technological systems may be affected by the difference between the designer and the practitioner's visions of a practice. ...
... Current literature shows that on-going advances in technology have made it considerably more accessible and cost-effective for intelligence agencies to use Big Data to inform their work. This technology has permitted the intelligence community to categorise, sift, and analyse large volumes of information and data to develop trends and patterns which can be used to inform operational or strategic processes and decisions (Resnyansky, 2010). This has altered both the way open source information is viewed by the intelligence community, and how secret and open source intelligence is handled. ...
... However, software has been developed by humans not AI, and is reviewed and improved by human understanding of intelligence needs, using that understanding to improve the software further. Knowledge Databased Discovery (KDD) is an example of a method that uses technology not to eliminate human intelligence, but rather to take Big Data and yield usable information by reducing cognitive and information overload INTELLIGENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 7 (Resnyansky, 2010) & (Shichkina, Degtyarev & Koblov, 2016). This enables the human data analyst or intelligence personnel to put Big Data to use without being overwhelmed by its volume, but without replacing the need for a human to look at and review the data outcomes. ...
Research
1 Michael Grieves To what extent has intelligence become reliant on technology and how does this affect analysis? Submission Date: 12 DECEMBER 2018 Word Count: 4998 (Excluding title and bibliography)
... One might argue that modern technological advancements are also one of the main drivers for change in intelligence organizations. Several articles examined the impact of technological advancements in intelligence organizations (Resnyansky, 2010;Bulger, 2016;Kilroy, 2017;Warner, 2012;Ateş, 2020). However, these studies found that technological advancements either provided an enhancement to intelligence activities or posed a greater challenge. ...
Thesis
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The central goal of this dissertation is to explain why and how intelligence organizations change. The transformation of intelligence organizations often examined under organizational studies, bureaucracy studies, and intelligence studies and has never been a primary focus of research. This dissertation brings a new and overarching perspective to explain the transformation of intelligence organizations. To be more specific, it argues that three factors trigger the change in intelligence organizations: cataclysmic events, external threats, and domestic threats. Further, this dissertation also argues that regime type determines how intelligence organizations change. In order to explore the transformation of intelligence organizations within different regimes, I study twelve events under three cases: 9/11, 15th July 2016 Coup Attempt and the end of the Cold War as cataclysmic events; Russian aggression after 2010, Syrian Civil War, and Ukraine Conflict after 2010, and the emergence of ISIS as external threats; and domestic terrorism in the US in the 1990s, PKK, and Chechen terrorism in the 1990s as domestic threats. For each case, I study the background of events, official intelligence documents, statements of senior policymakers and intelligence officials, and available data. Also, I conduct interviews with nine national security experts. The findings confirm the predictions of the institutional framework presented in this dissertation. The analysis demonstrated that cataclysmic events led to a major transformation in the intelligence community regardless of regime type. However, this transformation occurred 1) slower in the US, 2) quicker in Russia, and 3) in a hybrid way in Turkey. Furthermore, even though traditional external threats led to regular change regardless of regime type, non-state external threats led to 4) a slow transformative change in the US, 5) a quick regular change in Russia, and 6) a hybrid change in Turkey. Last, domestic threats led to 7) slow regular change in the US, 8) a quick transformative change in Russia, and 9) a hybrid change in Turkey.
... Specifically, does emerging state practice resemble a playbook of response options in the wake of public revelations of becoming victim to digital espionage? There is extensive scholarship on the impact of digital technologies on espionage (Gioe, Goodman, and Stevens 2020;Pepper 2010;Resnyansky 2010;Warner 2017), including HUMINT (Gioe 2017), and on the role and reform of oversight and regulatory arrangements (Cayford, Pieters, and Hijzen 2018;Gill 2020;Omand and Phythian 2018). There is also vigorous discussion about the status of digital political espionage in international law. ...
Article
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Digital espionage has Cold War origins, but states are still determining how to respond when they are found to be its latest victims. In multilateral discussions about norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, digital political espionage is the elephant in the room. Like other aspects of inter-state intelligence competition, digital espionage is ‘business as usual’ but can also lead to tensions, particularly when operations become public. The strategic consequences of digital espionage appear significant, as asymmetries of state power and poor understanding of technical aspects of cyber operations lead to uncertainty about appropriate responses to ‘cyber victimhood’. We offer multiple propositions to frame state responses to digital espionage, focusing on the relational power of the victim and spying states and their bilateral relationships. States will generally respond proportionately to state-on-state digital espionage, whilst domestic-political factors pressure them to adopt more robust, cost-imposing measures that may exacerbate the strategic consequences of digital espionage. We illustrate these propositions with three recent cases – the Snowden revelations (2013); the Office of Personnel Management breach (2014); and the SolarWinds breach (2020) – and explore the importance of calibrated responses to digital political espionage for strategic stability and state behavioural norms in cyberspace.
... Machines channel energy into precise lines of action thus helping productivity and goal achievement. However, there is also danger in machines through accidental or purposeful misdirection of their power (Resnyansky, 2010;Benes, 2013). Technology itself punishes the user and others if applied incorrectly and for the wrong purposes. ...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to develop a nuanced interpretative frame that can help global managers with recommendations to avoid misapplied power with group and organizational situations. Design/methodology/approach Embodied metaphor is applied in analysis of the theory-praxis nexus to reconceive the bases, processes and resources associated with group and organizational power. Identified are patterns of relations in organizational bases and circuits of power, as expressed through literal and symbolic aspects of human hands and fingers. The paper does not revolve around gesticulations; instead focusing upon a novel, meta-cultural development of touchlines of the human hand, revealing conceptual relationships with the implementation of influence. Findings A differentiated understanding of the touchline powers of technology, information, self-awareness, relation to others and access to money can respectively improve decisions and actions. Insights are provided in the areas of controlling people to achieve objectives, demeaning others, managing change and resistance for personal gain, negotiating contracts, advancing personal interests and coordinating reward or punishment. Research limitations/implications Choosing one metaphor may contribute to the exclusion of other perspectives, however, the embodied nature of the hand and touchlines tends to cross cultures and may assist further research to address the embedded nature of abuses of organizational power. Originality/value The contribution is in the theory-praxis nexus to assist global managers in addressing the risk of potential misuse of power and influence in organizations and to respond to calls for ancient indigenous epistemological systems to assume a role in contemporary management studies.
... However, the proposed technological solutions may conflict with public interests; technology can empower some groups while disempowering others. Resisting technological determinism requires, apart from revealing technologies" limitations and biases, understanding how technological tools can be redesigned to enhance public interests and to address the needs of specific users (Kellner, 2002;Resnyansky, 2010a). ...
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Social media (SM) are fast becoming a locus of disaster-related activities that range from volunteers helping locate disaster victims to actions that are malicious and offensive, from sincere expressions of empathy towards affected communities to consuming disaster imagery for mere entertainment, from recovery support funds being collected to online marketers preying on the attention afforded to a disaster event. Because of the diversity and sheer volume of both relevant and irrelevant information circulating throughout SM, prioritising an affected population’s needs and relevant data is an increasingly complex task. In addition, SM data need to be interpreted as manifestations of social processes related to community resilience, diversity and conflict of interests, and attitudes to particular response strategies. The use of SM in disasters generates a growing need for domain-specific technological solutions that can enhance public interests as well as address the needs of both disaster managers and the affected population. This task requires integrating social sciences into the development of tools that enable disaster SM data detection, filtering, analysis and representation. The aim of this paper is to contribute to a critical-constructive dialogue between social scientists and developers of SM analytic capabilities. In the context of historical, anthropological and sociological research on disaster, this paper outlines concepts of the disaster paradigm, data as a product of social and representational practices, and disaster context, and discusses their heuristic significance for the analysis of disaster SM as a manifestation of social and cultural practices.
... Timely delivery of pertinent information to higher-level decision makers is also a must. In both cases, information technology can be of great help [51]. Intelligent software agents, technology-mediated global collaboration [52] can all help improve the intelligence dissemination process, thus reducing the risk of agro-terrorism being actually inflicted on its potential targets. ...
Conference Paper
Agro-terrorism is a hostile attack, towards an agricultural environment, including infrastructures and processes, in order to significantly damage national and international political interests. This article provides a framework for reducing agro-terrorism-related risks by either means of foresight (prevention) or early detection of exotic/foreign pathogenic agents and their dispersion patterns. It focuses on intention detection using overt data sources on the World Wide Web as they relate to agro-terrorism threats. The paper defines agro-terrorism, examines data characteristics, identifies weaknesses among the intelligence community that must be addressed, then integrates the classical intelligence cycle for early detection that may lead to prevention of such acts.
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This paper discusses the role of decision making within the context of the Intelligence Led Policing (ILP) and suggests that reliance on this model may lead to some profound abstractions because ‘knowledge’ based on intelligence can be partial or incomplete and should not necessarily become the sole basis for constructing a strategic or tactical response to solving (at least in the long term) a crime problem. Intelligence is often limited, separate objects of information that then become the basis for constructing a view of a larger whole.
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This volume focuses on the ways in which (sociological) criminologists study terrorism and counterterrorism. Generally, terrorism has not been central in criminology, but since September 11, terrorism has suddenly and resolutely moved center stage in criminological debates. Conferences, lectures, funding opportunities, and publications now all fully embrace terrorism and counter-terrorism as topics worthy of serious reflection and investigation among criminologists. The papers in this volume bring out the distinct contribution criminologists and criminological sociologists have to offer in the study of (counter-)terrorism from theoretical, methodological, and substantive viewpoints.
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The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by"--metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.
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The US Intelligence community is facing different challenges due to the changing scenario in the US politics. Intelligence community can be categorized into four basic categories, including sensors, platforms, computers, networks and software that process, compile, and enabling devices. They can also be broken down into INTs, or intelligence disciplines, which includes signals intelligence, imagery intelligence, geospatial intelligence, and measurement and signatures intelligence. Intelligence organizations usually focus on how to solve an intelligence problems with its own technology, rather than considering collaboration at the beginning of the research and development process. The intelligence community needs better ways to tap outside technical knowledge and expertise.
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In this article the author tries to characterize most generally the basic principles of a program developed by author, that may be discussed within the framework of the systems movement along with all other programs and projects. The program is elaborating the 'systems-structural methodology'. The main idea of the author's suggestion is to integrate the elaboration of a systems approach with that of the new ways and modes of thinking we call 'methodological'.
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Berkowitz and Goodman examine recent failures of the intelligence community, discuss why traditional principles of intelligence are no longer adequate, and consider the implications for such broad policy issues as secrecy, covert action, and the culture of the intelligence community.