How AI Can Transform National Intelligence

December 2018

Intelligence officers are often called upon to make time-sensitive decisions that directly affect human lives. Decisions which require an in-depth understanding of specific topics across time.  How can AI help them achieve a full understanding of any topic, in minutes? From understanding the ‘word on the street’ (even if that street happens to be in Teheran), to gaining a complex understanding of the main themes making up a topic of interest (such as the Iran Nuclear Deal), complex AI algorithms are able to understand any topic fully in a matter of minutes, and project that understanding in a digestible way to the officer on the job. Each topic is a world of its own, made up of a wealth of themes – relevant parties, countries, influential figures and their affinity or level of objectivity towards the topic, personal interests, global actors, economic and political aspects and much more. AI has the capacity to help officers comprehend any topic in depth, in a matter of minutes, to the level of a world expert who has been studying this topic for decades.

Avi Korenblum, CEO of Voyager Labs, addressed this point in his talk at the Calcalist ‘Mind the Data’ conference last week, and added that today, “the main challenge lies in integrating artificial intelligence with human expertise.”

AI has the ability to uncover the reality and intricacies of a topic as they truly are, without resorting to preconceived, subjective hunches about what is most important. By analyzing massive amounts of data, it gives the true and most current, up to date depiction of the topic from various angles (for example Social or Economic). The resulting themes that present themselves may lead intelligence officers in directions they may never have intuited on their own, vastly enhancing their grasp of any issue. Each theme is made up of countless sub-themes, opening up new avenues of investigation and previously unknown elements regarding the topic being analyzed. Aspects which might be mission critical.

In his presentation, Korenblum demonstrated this point with the example of the Iran Nuclear Deal, showing how the key players and entities involved in the Nuclear Deal changed over time.  For example, in 2015, the prevailing themes surrounding the Iran Deal were:  The Nuclear Program, Economic Sanctions and Oil Prices. In 2018, the prevailing themes surrounding the Iran Deal are: Withdrawal, Trump, North Korea, and the Houthi Militia in Yemen (which isn’t an obvious connection and probably wouldn’t intuitively arise).

Each of these themes were then broken down to sub-themes, revealing intricate interplays of elements, interests and connections to the main topic (such as the themes making up the ‘Houthi Militia’ and the role they play with respects to the Iran Deal). These elements were generated organically –  based on what AI had discovered when ‘learning’ about the topic – and this is just the beginning. These sub-themes can be broken down and explored even further, according to mission needs.

At the micro level, artificial intelligence can, today, reach profound conclusions regarding a simple sentence. For example, it can assess the ideological affiliation, personal involvement and emotional involvement of the writer of the text, as well as the level of objectivity. It can understand the context in which this sentence lives, connecting the sentence to overarching themes such as ‘poverty’ or ‘riots’, without these themes having been mentioned explicitly in the text. When this technology is unleashed on millions of texts, it creates an entire world view that can be extremely beneficial to Intelligence officers and other agents tasked with keeping the public safe.

The New Intelligence Officer

Artificial Intelligence represents a game changer for intelligence officers, investigators, law enforcement agents and other officials entrusted with the safety of the public, because it allows each agent to become a world expert on any topic, in minutes. According to Korenblum, the combination of AI-based tools and human expertise creates a force multiplier: a new, ‘bionic’ intelligence officer who has an endless capacity for knowledge and an immediate comprehensive understanding of any topic across time and domain.

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