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03 October 2007

Intelligence for the sixth generation warfighter

We seem to having found ourselves, by virtue of the most excellent work being done over at 5GW Theory Timeline and elsewhere, enmeshed more deeply in the continuing debate over the ongoing revolution(s) in military affairs. We enjoy the intellectual exercise of considering the implications of changing technologies, social structures, political arrangements, and economic factors on war in the next generations. After all, the matters of intelligence are often deeply intertwined with war, and we strong believe that the transformation of intelligence - away from an industrial age bureaucracy dedicated to counting things to an agile, knowledge worker driven enterprise focused on understanding and forecasting the subtle dynamics of complex systems – will require engagement to the very boundaries of current n generation theory.

That being said, we do think that there is distinct limit to the current foreseeability of future GW. The radical changes that will be introduced in even the near future – let alone on the distant horizon – will challenge even the best of minds. In this, we would crib Nassim Nicholas’ Taleb’s analogy that in order to predict current events in Mesopotamia from the perspective of the Neanderthal, one has to understand the invention of the wheel first, and every subsequent technological and social change after – an impossible task, given that if one has the knowledge to predict an innovation one usually has the concept required to build it sooner rather than later.

This limitation is essentially defined by the Singularity – the event horizon beyond which we cannot predict future technological or social changes, due to the inherently radical nature of the intermediate changes – and the accelerating effects of those shifts - that will bring society to that point.

Purpleslog and Shloky note that this becomes a useful upper boundary for the unknown n in the generations of warfare. 6th generation warfare is therefore post-singularity warfare, and essentially and entirely unpredictable from the perspective where we now stand.

It thus follows as a corollary that intelligence in 6GW would be similarly as difficult to predict. This gives those of us engaged in the continuing study of (and participation in) the revolution in intelligence affairs a useful upper boundary for our speculations.

This boundary also helps place perhaps the most enigmatic and promising element in the debates regarding the future of intelligence: the potential for intelligence collection and processing to be radically altered by developments in quantum science. These are developments that will occur both in the immediate future and deep out-years timeline, and offer the potential to create new sensors and entire new intelligence disciplines. Quantum intelligence, or QINT, might thus take its place in the pantheon among the earlier forms of technologically derived intelligence such as IMINT, SIGINT and MASINT. And based on what we believe regarding the future Singularity, QINT will be a late stage 4GW and full course 5GW discipline. It may also be the discipline that is most important in carrying forward into the event horizon of 6GW and beyond.

But those post-Singularity futures lie far beyond our humble perspective, and we content ourselves with having seen described this upper boundary – and find our sense of the discussion renewed to focus on those elements within the reach of where we currently stand.

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