Push and hold

Intelligence in the 21st Century: New Realities - New Challenges

One of the most important areas of ensuring national security is conducting of intelligence. Leaders of the leading countries of the world keep emphasizing the role of intelligence and the need for its timely improvement. For example, the US National Security Strategy once stated that strong intelligence was needed to protect the state by warning of threats to national security, providing the necessary support to military and political leadership in countering those threats and finding opportunities to advance national interests through diplomacy [1].

The process of civilizational development constantly gives rise to new realities that influence the functioning of the state mechanism and political system of any country. In January 2017, the US National Intelligence Council prepared a report entitled “Global Trends: The Paradox of Progress”, which, among other things, draws attention to the fact that in recent years, fundamental changes in the global landscape have been taking place, while the achievements of  scientific-technological and information progress have been forming a more dangerous world [2].

These factors cannot be ignored by intelligence services that need to respond adequately to new challenges. The problems of their activities in current conditions are subject to concern not only across the ocean. The Polish Institute for Security and Strategies Analytical Center [3] prepared a special report, “The Third Generation Intelligence, or Intelligence Services in the Era of Global Acceleration” [4]. The document says that the sphere of intelligence activity has always been information. It was considered “raw material”, which was usually extracted from hard-to-reach or well-protected “deposits”. As a result of processing, the information took the form of a finished product, which provided an idea of ​​the chosen fragment of reality. Traditionally, intelligence was organized on the basis of the so-called “knowledge chain”: from primary data through processed information and holistic knowledge all the way to the “wisdom” of those officials who determined intelligence targets and used the knowledge gained. Logical-thinking activity was the methodological basis not only for the analysis of reality, but also for prediction and forecasting of the future.

Today, the classic “knowledge chain” is falling apart, and perhaps is even getting more and more entangled, stretched and split. Each of its elements changes as a result of three key factors: speed, scale and complexity. Data, like codes that reflect the structure of reality, are generated at an ever-increasing pace in the environment that is becoming more and more artificial (virtualized, imitated). Information is more and more often created by mechanized data processing systems controlled by artificial intelligence. Knowledge of reality combines factual and fictitious (imaginary) elements, without testing them with use of objective criteria that prove their truth or falsehood. State wisdom of decision-makers gives way to ideological conditions and political expediency. More often than not, it becomes a victim of the helplessness in the face of the need to make decisions based on incomplete or unverified knowledge. The speed with which information is generated by electronic telecommunication devices and put into global circulation through the Internet and social networking sites overwhelms ordinary users and is a pain for decision-makers.

The scale and range of information is a true “digital tsunami”. Every second, the Internet is updated with 90 GB of data. No one can estimate what percentage of them are fake news, that is, unverified data that have been falsified or created for the purpose of misinformation.

The bold fantasy of half a century ago in the development of cybernetics, digital telecommunications and computer science is now a reality. The rapid pace of development of information and communication technologies leads to profound transformations of the state, society, economy and culture. Technologies do not resolve security problems, they only multiply them due to growing interconnections and limited solutions. Besides, users of these technologies, through ignorance or specialized skills, exacerbate the problems and threats associated with the civilization's transformation towards an “infosphere community” [5].

 Intelligence services are also undergoing transformation, even if they do not notice changes occurring in the surrounding reality, or, realizing them, expect a smooth and painless adaptation to new conditions. In the meantime, public authorities are faced with challenges related mainly to various aspects of security: social, economic, information and so on. The risk of cyberattacks is growing, and the scale of threats from the crime is increasing, from organized and international crime included. The threat of terrorist attacks does not disappear, despite the decrease in their frequency. In all its complexity, the world is becoming increasingly difficult for being monitored, analyzed and assessed in terms of the factors of stability and destabilization that give rise to threats and security concerns. In the face of these challenges, intelligence services need to make a major adjustment towards creating the new generation intelligence.

In this context, we should take into consideration the following problems:

Growing complexity of the modern security environment that facilitates the spread of threats. “Digital Tsunami” is a flow of information that is generated by the Internet users while increasing its volume; growing speed of the information flow; mixing reality-depicting data with pseudo-information, or information distorting the reality

Development of technologies for data acquisition, processing and analysis, creation of algorithms that generate content transmission, proliferation of artificial intelligence and deep machine learning systems based on neural networks, mass use of bots, intellectual assistants, crowdsourcing [6].

The growing role of technologies supporting knowledge creation through artificial intelligence, especially in the field of big data, information processing and generation of synthetic knowledge, is the basis for intelligence analysis.

Expansion of deep (deep web) [7] and hidden (dark net) [8] network segments of the Internet related to the rise in crime, poses a direct threat to the state and its citizens.

Multilevelness of decision-making structures (both, at the domestic and international levels); increasing number of decision-makers or those participating in decision-making at different levels (state, international organizations, expert groups, society); intersection of decision-making processes at the domestic and international (including supranational) levels.

Commercialization of security; growing offer of analytical services by private intelligence companies (such as Stratfor); outsourcing, that is, ordering certain analytical work to individuals.

In view of the above-mentioned new realities and created by them new challenges facing modern states and societies, intelligence services need to make profound changes in the organizational, technical and mental spheres, in accordance with the key interests of the state and nation determined by the National Security Strategy. As in the case with wars of next generations, which are replacing previous ones, but preserve many of their features, the third-generation intelligence combines existing functions, goals and organizational solutions with new technologies. The first-generation intelligence focused on collecting  secret information through spy networks, passing that information to a narrow circle of decision-makers. The second-generation intelligence was based on a broad institutional structure and various improved tools and methods for collecting and processing information. The third generation intelligence is a sophisticated data management system that incorporates artificial intelligence technologies to manage communication chaos in order to minimize mistakes in the assessment of reality. It combines traditional methods of obtaining classified information with large-scale open source data acquisition and processing (OSINT). The third-generation intelligence combines intelligence with counterintelligence, which focuses on critical infrastructure protection and protection of critical data, managed by both, public authorities and private entities. It works in a constant interrelation with the information services market, in particular, structures that provide information from their own human and technical resources (private “intelligence” companies) and analytical products created on the basis of open source data. The main task of the third-generation intelligence is to improve the ability to predict the behavior of individual and collective objects in terms of detecting potential, possible and probable threats to the national security of the country.

Choosing  strategic priorities and main directions of activity of intelligence services, adapted to the provisions of the National Security Strategy

First of all, a model of real and effective support to decision-making at the strategic level, consistent with the National Security Strategy of the state, should be developed. Determining priority directions for intelligence services (and the entire system of special services) based on a thorough analysis of the internal political situation and the international environment will allow to organize this system appropriately, to provide it with the necessary human, technical and financial resources, as well as to specify the needs for the development and improvement of its work.

Establishment of an integrated situation assessment system at the national level

An important direction  of ​​activity is to improve  the ability to recognize internal threats in order to enhance the ability to take effective actions to predict these threats and neutralize negative phenomena and processes. Establishing an integrated situation assessment system at the national level will make it possible to put into motion mechanisms to monitor the level of implementation of the Strategy and to adjust its provisions in the light of changes in the security environment. Effective response to dynamic political, economic, social and technological changes is a criterion for the effectiveness of the internal security system in terms of detecting, identifying and preventing threats and sources of risk. This also has direct impact on struggle  against crime, taking into consideration  data of criminal intelligence when assessing the situation.

Development of  the ability to detect external sources of risk and threats

Another priority direction is  the external dimension of national security, which concerns sources of risk, threats and opportunities that arise outside the country or are of supranational nature. In a modern networked and interconnected world where a significant number of international, state and non-state actors co-exist, the risk of rapid emergence, spread and influence of  threats is particularly high. That is why public authorities should have up-to-date information on the international situation in the context of challenges and threats. Development of intelligence capabilities in this area is a necessary requirement for effective support to the leadership of the state in achieving the main goals of national foreign policy and preventing and countering  external threats.

The proposed integrated situation assessment system should be based on modern technologies that optimize to the maximum  the process of obtaining and processing information through the use of artificial intelligence systems that support preparation of completed analytical products for the needs of decision-makers.

Development, use and improvement of tools, methods and techniques based on the latest information and communication technologies

The image of the world, emerging in the minds of modern people, is increasingly shaped by electronic media. The Internet and social media influence behaviors, including negative and public nuisance or threatening national interests. Today, media chaos and the flow of information can be partially controlled by large-scale, automated IT systems supported by artificial intelligence. Deep webs and dark net segments of the Internet should be the focus of much attention of special services. This means the need for systemic and organizational solutions to ensure effective intelligence activity in cyberspace.

Formation of the decision-making officials' conscious responsibility for national security

Intelligence services serve the people, whose representatives are the highest bodies of state power. For their part, representatives of these bodies are responsible not only for the thorough  execution of their powers under the law, but also for  proper use of assessments, analyses and other information provided by intelligence services. Even the most accurate intelligence can be wasted if decision-makers ignore, misuse or manipulate it. These individuals' disregard for the intelligence services' efforts, expectation of a simplified picture of situation, and simple extrapolation of analytical data to decisions, as well as conformism on the part of intelligence leaders, can undermine efforts to create the third-generation intelligence. Cooperation between public authorities and intelligence services must be based on mutual respect and understanding, giving up the  temptation  to impose their own opinions and to play up to an opinion  of each other  to the detriment of national security interests. A key precondition for this is complete de-politicization of the intelligence service command  system and recognition of the supremacy of national interests over party, clan or any other ones.

Volodymyr  Palyvoda,

Chief Advisor of the  Security Sector Development's Problems of the

National Institute for Strategic Studies

[1] National Security Strategy. - [Electronic resource]. – Available from: http://nssarchive.us/NSSR/2010.pdf

[2] Global Trends: Paradox of Progress. - [Electronic resource]. – Available from: https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/nic/GT-Full-Report.pdf

[3] One of the founders and chairman of the think tank - Grzegorz Malecki, former head of the Intelligence Agency of the Republic of Poland.

[4] Wywiad 3.0, czyli sluzby wywiadowcze w czasach globalne przyspieszenia. - [Electronic resource]. - Available from: https://fibis.pl/zagadnienia/wywiad-3-0-wyzwania-i-zadania-sluzb-wywiadowczych-w-czasach-globalnego-przyspieszenia

 [5] Infosphere - a global infrastructure for storage, processing and transmission of information, together with software, organizations, and personnel responsible for their development and operation.

[6] Crowdsourcing - the transfer of certain production functions to an indefinite number of persons (based on a public offer, without concluding a labour contract).

[7] A deep (invisible or hidden) network - a part of the World Wide Web that is not, under any circumstances, indexed by standard online search engines.

[8] The Hidden (Dark) Network - a part of the World Wide Web that can only be accessed through certain software, configuration or authorization, often using non-standard communication protocols and ports. Often used for illegal activities (such as the sale of weapons, counterfeit documents or drugs).



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