MI6 | Artificial Intelligence | An Intelligence AI Index

Credit Default Swaps killed the Moody 10 years ago…how will the FSB and CIA fare in Round II?

The names of the instruments might change, and the names of the participants might change, but history shows us, the outcome is normally the same.  The outcome for the many is nearly always eventually determined by the will of the few.  The question is.  Who are the few?

Now what new instrument do we know of that is not on a regulated exchange and has no reporting requirements just like CDS's in 2008.  Hmm...let's think for a Bit.  Here are some of our predictions.

Thought recoginition and mapping research began a long time ago. However, recent developments connecting Neuroscience with technology, will literally change how we think in the not too distant future.

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The Role of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is clearly going to play a huge role, not just in the future of the Intelligence Services, but  technology and society in general.  To a large degree this has already started and other examples of exponential technological growth such as facial recognition and biometric data gathering are already widely used.

Recent well publicised critics of these developments, have used emotive and sometimes extremely concerning examples of how the use of these technologies mark the end of the "private generation', instead giving rise to a big brother style of governance where individual privacy is destroyed.  Of course, we cannot predict the future with 100% certainty and although the objective of governments, agencies and corporate firms is aimed at increasing the probability of predicting exponential growth, it is nonetheless an understandably difficult task.  

In many fields, especially for example, the analysis of human patterns of behaviour or financial markets and their various fields of technical analysis, past performance is often used as a guide to predict future performance.  Certainly from a mathematical or statistical perspective alone there is weighty evidence to support this approach.  However, others argue that where exponential technology is concerned, past performance by definition, precludes any meaningful role in predicting the future.  This is open to debate and depends on where the argument is pitched.  Our opinion is that all past behaviour can be used regardless, it is how this data is utilised that is the more salient point

Before moving on to the scientific focus of this subject which is after all the main concern here, it might be worth putting rest to some ideological or sociological concerns.  Or, at least open an alternative view.  If mankind has taught us anything (apart from, in the words of Mr Corleone et al, anyone can be assassinated), it is that people always find a way and, more pertinently, they find a way to freedom, ergo privacy.  Of course, AI and other technologies will continue to pressure public privacy, and here the alliteration is not suggestive of apathy or distain as Larkin might have pondered.  It will continue to do so.  Equally, people will circumvent control in favour of finding ways of preserving their privacy and overcome the hurdles as and when they occur.  That is human nature.  The decision we have to face at any point in time (or the immediate future) is which is the lesser of two evils?  Without wanting to sound flippant or devalue the importance of the argument, is privacy good to a person if they are dead or imprisoned?  How about a race of people?  Whist there are individuals prepared to sacrifice the lives of innocent people in the name of their extreme views or even just in the name of profitability and criminal activity, then the success of countering those people comes at a price. 

 

So, although the likes of Mr Assange may have ideological and well meaning motives, the Intelligence Services are understandably more concerned with REALISTS not IDEALISTS.  That being the case, the Intelligence Services can only deal with problems that are put in front of them, using methods that are made available to them, to achieve their objectives.  The bottom line is, Mr Snowden and Mr Assange are critical and express their arguments, how?  It might be more prudent to simply reflect on the fact, that they can. They are fortunate in that respect and whilst they fight their battles according to redefined rules, countless millions before them have not had that luxury.  It is not the role of the Intelligence Services to help shape public opinion or represent a political stance as they are apolitical organisations.  For that reason, let us consider the specific role Artificial Intelligence does and will play in the area of Intelligence.

  • Where to start?
 
With so much information where do we begin?  Comments from Elon Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking are pessimistic, often using highly emotive language and predictions of catastrophic events (potentially) which seem to await the human race.  As the articles on this site have so far stressed, Measurement is a vital part in harnessing the power of Exponential Technological growth, in our view.  Without knowing were we are at any given point in time, how can we know how far we have come and therefore, with some idea of trajectory, where could we be heading.  This view is not without its critics.  Using linear models of prediction, some would say, is either completely different or nearly impossible when examining exponential growth, by very definition.  So, is there any point?  Well, as the author of this site, I come to this subject not as a qualified scientist awash with PHD's or years of laboratory experience.  Whilst my angle is to take a holistic approach, some may well simply say that taking a holistic approach is a failure associated with someone who has no specific expertise, rather a jack of all trades and master of none.  A fair argument, and maybe true and those that can't do, invariably lead.  
 

Critics of Artificial Intelligence have pontificated over the possible effects on privacy issues and ultimately control for many years.  In this article we cover two key areas to assess if these fears have any substance.  The first concerns the definition of AI.  Without precise definitions we cannot accurately plot its effects on society, business, industry, science etc.  Where does AI begin and where do they draw the line?  Secondly, growth in technology over recent years has been exponential and continues at an almost relentless pace.  As this continues, one could easily argue that the limitations of the human brain mean we alone cannot monitor the pace of this growth or indeed control it.  The emergence of advanced AI in order to do so is both a necessity and a concern.  It is easy to see why the sceptics and doomsday merchants are becoming increasingly vocal. 

 

This article explores the potential for accurate measurement to define an index, built on current standards, for a universally accepted relative scale which can be applied (used) by intelligence agencies specifically, to determine a nation's current AI ranking and its trajectory.  This variable along with others could contribute to the overall measurement and rates of change of exponential technological growth within each area.   

 

Whilst others come close and have delivered interesting results, what measurement could be developed specifically with the Intelligence services in mind?  For example,  many other scales exist that look to rank a nation such as geo-political models based on variables such as a country's culture, technology, or economic factors.  What if one exists for the AI scale of the the G20 or G7 (more pertinently)?  Can clues as to the actual pace of AI development in one country be gained from flows into the public domain or retail market?  Take Huawei as an example.  Of course there was a time until relatively recently where the firm was the ultimate imitator and to some extent this was reflected in the quality of their hardware.  This has changed and one need merely look at the technology the firm is making available to the retail market in the form of all sorts of devices such as flexi-screen mobile phones and the NB-IoT technology, to physically see a growth in their IT capabilities, and therefore that of China too.  So where are they with AI and in an area that is undoubtedly secretive and well protected, how does one find a meaningful AI scale?  There are ways of course, but if nothing else, research on identifiable and easily available data (using our own processes as a "control"), may find a correlation.  That being the case, one can then envisage a situation where an AI scale for the top 7 nations is not there to simply rank in terms of position, but to have significant numerical values produced a regular intervals to detect signs of change...warnings if you will.  Equally, and with the financial services mantra in mind that "past performance is not always an accurate predictor of future events", one can still look at where a nation has been and follow its trail to see where it is heading.  These are all possible, useful variables, which when added and weighted appropriately might give us what we want and indeed, calm the 'doomsday merchants' with evidence of accurate measurements that could allay their fears.  

 

In simple terms, whilst national rankings in these sorts of things do generally stay in the same order eg, US first, then the UK, Japan, China etc, an accurate numerical AI ranking would be very useful indeed e.g. USA 62.9, China 41.3 in 2019, USA 59.3 China 48.2 in 2022 etc etc. Here the rate of change in AI is of interest and represents one part of the growth in technology.  This will lead to accurate measurements of exponential growth and a universally accepted standard that can be relevant to the Intelligence services specifically.   How this is achieved would be considered sensitive, but they would naturally include factors specific to the intelligence community.

 

So, MI6, CIA et al...if you're not already doing this and developing 'intelligence specific' standards of measurement, then please crack on.  Time, by definition, is passing quickly in the Exponential Intelligence universe. Read more.

Q: Can we induce an event which leads to a material and significant change in a person’s ability or behaviour which would be useful to an organisation such as MI6?

Straps yourselves in for a little bit of a wild ride, so if extreme sports of the academic or indeed philosophical kind are not your thing, then please unbuckle now and leave the park. The four terms used in the title would appear at first glance to be connected, but for the purposes of this article, are not.  There is a distinct, and key difference in that they refer to a journey of sorts.  The journey of the mind and neural functionality that eventually leads to a change which has been caused by an ‘event’. Each term describes a condition.  A condition of the brain at a point in the journey. 

Where did my Taxi Driver and my money go?”

 

Whenever there is a radical and rapid development in Technology, the voices of those who fear the human effects of such developments sing loud.  Of course, debate is ultimately a healthy proposition when conducted in the correct manner i.e a respectful exchange of ideas, evidence and facts to determine the truth or at least the likelihood of why ‘something’ happens.  The problem is that as we venture further up the emotional curve and hit the raw nerve of public consciousness, a healthy debate, absent of extreme views, is less and less likely.   This is quite possibly the stage we are at now when it comes to the vast changes of technological development at exponential rates of growth.  If one then throws into the mix a subject such as Artificial Intelligence, which has been the subject of many a doomsday prophecy, especially in the fictional world, then the prediction of likely effects  becomes distorted.  There are a vast number of capillaceous issues branching out from each topic within AI and on a scale which precludes us from analysis in this article due to time.  However, there are rarely more topics as emotive as a person's job and their ability to generate income in order to survive...so will driverless cars render the taxi driver extinct and will money even be necessary in any form? Read More. 13.08.19

Dark Web

An Opportunity or Threat?

Perceived wisdom suggests the Dark Web is synonymous with illegal activities involving weapons, drugs and pedophiia.  The assumption has been that if you use it, then you have something sinister to hide.  To be fair, closure of drug giants like "Silk Road" did nothing to change those perceptions.  However, in the big brother world of surveillance, the search for privacy is demanded by the majority and will be found in some way or another.  Furthermore, in a society where people are being increasingly attracted to the fringes of life,  the shift to increasing usage of the Dark Web is a given.  That does not mean it is wrong however, and as we often witness, it is people from the 'fringes' who sometimes operate outside of social norms, who provide the greatest sources of innovation.  We firmly believe the dark web will undergo an upgrade of sorts and although usual, non-secured browser based sites will attract some attention, their days are numbered.  The really exciting proposition is to predict Dark Web 2.0, 3.0 and so on. Rather ironically, but understandably, it is the law enforcement and intelligence agencies who are spending more and more resources on hiding within the shadows of the Dark Web.  It has been the most effective way so far.  However, as it grows, it will it continue to be the safe haven of the criminal or will some form of regulation (such as was with the legalisation of drugs etc), prevent the extreme offenders?  Take the example of Silk Road. It is not only possible, it is probable.  Whether you are in favour of legalisation generally or not,  in many cases it is a safer option.  Many of the sites that offered Marijuana were ran as slick commercial organisations where consumer satisfaction was paramount.  The product was therefore of superior quality (apparently) and it was offered within the relative safety of the internet and not some dark street corner.  Maybe that one is for the liberals out there.  For our purposes however, it shows that the deep dark web does actually have a USP which can be monetized, namely privacy.  Looking further head therefore, the real drug that will sell well in our 'Orwellian' future, is anonymity.  That will undoubtedly be the most precious of commodities.

 

As it stands now however, people and the societies they live in tend to display tendencies to self-regulate and yes, whilst there is always potential for abuse, the masses will (or should) drive the market to some degree of parity.  There are certainly huge opportunities around the corner.  A secured 'blockchain'esque' physical depository for parcel delivery is bound to happen on a large scale and accompany the growth of the Dark Web.  That is because the only chink in its armour at the moment is complete anonymity with delivery of items. Imagine a secure facility where parcels (aka Data) entering from one side, is subjected to 'scrambling' (aka 'Encryption') and leave the other side to be collected by a seemingly unconnected party (aka 'You').  Now multiply that across every City in the UK.  You then have what one can REALLY call an encrypted, secure, supply chain that would be undetectable to all agencies and, most importantly, legal  Read More.

There are many ways to recruit a spy.  Certainly too many to cover in an article such as this. It really depends on who the particular intelligence agency is looking for, which organization, and what its objective is.  It will come as no surprise that some methods are more or less well publicized than others.  For SIS in particular, given that the organization did not officially exist until 1994, many of the methods used for recruitment are, for obvious reasons, still closely guarded secrets.  Graduate recruitment is one thing, but developing a potential (currently operational) agent is another, especially if they are already in full time professional employment or indeed, working for another intelligence agency. 

 

The PR stance at the moment may well be to promote a progressive, modern image, and in many ways it most definitely is.  However, the traditional ‘tap on the shoulder’ approach was really symptomatic of a desire to retain control of the recruitment process.  To that end, things have not really changed.  SIS has, and always will be, more cautious about the ‘walk in’ candidate and will have entirely different, and more complex, processes in place to evaluate such a person.  Furthermore, the complex recruitment cycle is now refined to the point where SIS can recruit individuals without them even knowing.  Now that’s surely the recruiters’ holy grail.  As with all things ‘intelligence’ orientated, there is a constant focus on resources and purchasing power.  SIS needs to maximise the value of each pound spent and therefore, long and complex targeting of individuals used to gain information, has to be considered against the costs of recruiting those intelligence officers charged with interpreting that information.  So, in essence, a balancing act in the same way as any other modern-day commercial organisation.  Let’s not forget however, that despite the budget allocated by the Intelligence Committee and oversight of section 5, 6 and GCHQ, there are still relatively few intelligence officers out there. Especially in the ever-changing competitive world of private intelligence agencies and their corporate counterparts which compounds the problems caused by the brain drain and external temptations.

 

SIS Chief Alex Younger said in his speech at St Andrews that “If you think you can spot an MI6 officer, you are mistaken. It doesn’t matter where you are from. If you want to make a difference and you think you might have what it takes, then the chances are that you do have what it takes, and we hope you will step forward.”  Clearly this is a nod to the future and the recognition that with Espionage 4.0 around the corner, intelligence agencies need to invest now and allow time for the training and development of new individuals.  Individuals that could take two or more years to develop before assuming roles of increased responsibility and clout.  This is the likely reason and not, as some cynics have suggested, merely PR propaganda developed for the benefit of our adversaries to suggest that UK intelligence is growing.  The argument here being that even if the funds are not available, and even if the organisation is cutting costs, creating the illusion that the funds are there is just as effective.

 

So far the common denominator is money.  Whether it is the level of funding, or the maximisation of value for each pound spent.  Mr Younger’s comments clearly pushes ideology as a motivator and driver for potential candidates, and one can hardly blame him.  Let’s face it, it would be hard for SIS to push the financial incentive when faced with free market competition.  So, it is a given that the organisation has to, regardless of whether it is true or not, sell the notion of ‘making a difference’ as the key driver.  So, enter the ‘buddhist spy’ i.e. someone who has forsaken all desires of financial or materialistic rewards in favour of….that little bit more.  Here, the idea that freedom is power is never more true, but by god it’s a tough one to find, especially in the younger recruits.  Money can never be the sole motivator in this profession, but the complexities of life, youth, character and practical issues, means it simply is important.  One cannot really attribute this simply to youth either.  Yes, the younger recruits may well be ambitious and dazzled at the prospect of financial reward, but then again so is the 42 year old married man with three children.  So its not that.  Indeed, the tap on the shoulder system which focussed on the Oxbridge folk probably worked largely because they were the elite and on the whole from upper middle class affluent backgrounds where they always has the family vault to nudge open in times of desperation.  Ironically, this student and the buddhist spy are similar in that they are both free from financial pressures thereby making them more effective. 

 

So, they key thread to pull from the above is that there is power to be had from the freedom of external influences.  Without wanting to drift down the spiritual or philosophical road too much, a successful spy in todays world could be the one who can happily remove any influence, both positive or negative.  In the case of the honey trap, it would be rendered useless if the person did not attribute so much influence to sex.  In the case of financial reward, bribery or extortion, if one truly has zero desire for money then it is powerless.  In the case of power itself, if one is sufficiently self confident to the point where the affirmation from power is not needed, then that too is rendered useless.  So the buddhist spy almost becomes machine like.  Perhaps this is another case for the advancement of the neurodiverse, or those people less emotionally driven to some extent, in favour of the ‘safety’ of the binary world.  In essence, the buddhist spy is simply a person who cannot be bought, and therefore cannot be compromised.  Could you be that person?

 

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