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Introduction Sherman Kent was perhaps the foremost practitioner of the craft of analysis in American intelligence history. He wrote one of the first books to systematically address the topic of intelligence analysis, a work that is still assigned reading in college courses and still stands as perhaps the most lucid of its kind.
On the other hand, as extensive as were his experience and analytical acumen, Sherman Kent's career was not unblemished. Just before the Cuban Missile Crisis he and his colleagues in the Office of National Estimates committed one of the greatest estimative blunders in the history of the US Intelligence essay introduction Community.
Inthe Intelligence Community not only failed to foresee the Soviet deployment of offensive missiles to Cuba, but also in September also published a Special National Intelligence Estimate SNIE that argued against any such prospective deployment.
As head of the Board of National Estimates, Kent was responsible for this judgment and an active participant in the discussions that produced it.
McCone, chose to ignore the advice of his intelligence analysts and pressed for U-2 reconnaissance flights over the island. Typically, Kent later held up his own error as a lesson to be learned by future generations of intelligence analysts and emerged from the experience with his reputation and integrity enhanced.
When he retired it was rightly seen as the end of an era. In his father, William Kent, was elected to the first of three terms as a California congressman and from then until Sherman lived in Washington, DC.
He attended Yale University, graduating in and receiving a Ph. In Sherman Kent was rescued from what one suspects ultimately would have proved to be an unsatisfying teaching career at Yale by the imminent entry of the United States into World War II.
That this was needed was due less to any intrinsic flaw in the Agency's conception than to its inability to cope with the bureaucratic environment in which it existed. The CIA had been created as a national intelligence organization with capabilities that transcended and complemented those of the established intelligence units in the State Department and the military.
The national intelligence produced by the CIA was intended Intelligence essay introduction be a synthesis of the vast, often highly technical, knowledge possessed by the agencies that made up the US Intelligence Community, 7 which would be disseminated in a form easily accessible by the policymaker.
Internally, the intelligence process was hampered by bitter disputes over the proper coordination of analysis, 9 while externally ORE only managed to alienate the defense establishment as a w hole by reporting on the limits to Soviet military power thereby contradicting much of the rationale behind the funding of a large peacetime military and by persistently bursting the bubbles of anti-Soviet hysteria that appeared during this volatile period.
Roscoe Hillenkoetter, resisted implementing the report's conclusions, but the final blow was struck less than a year later, after ORE failed to foresee the outbreak of the Korean war on 25 June This was more than a bureaucratic reshuffling. It was at once a reaffirmation of the principles that underlay the creation of a national intelligence organization and a rejection of the experiences of the CIA's first three years.
At the interagency Intelligence Community level, a supervisory Intelligence Advisory Committee reviewed the quality of the analysis, ensured that it represented the opinions of all participating intelligence organizations, and guaranteed the right of dissent for those that disagreed with the conclusions of an NIE, all or in part.
When Langer returned to Harvard in early 19 52, Kent succeeded him in both positions, where he remained until he retired at the end of Under this leadership, the Board of National Estimates emerged as a body with the authority to issue even unwelcome substantive intelligence judgments, while remaining tolerant of dissent from within the ranks of the "departmental" intelligence organizations.
This level of detachment or, if you will, isolation was enhanced when the CIA moved across the Potomac to its new Langley, Virginia, headquarters compound in late More or less secure in its authoritative position as the sole source of estimative intelligence in the s, the Office of National Estimates was increasingly under fire throughout the following decade.
Finally, faced with the overt hostility of the Nixon administration, it was unable to defend itself effectively and in was reorganized out of existence.
Nevertheless, for the best part of a generation the Board of National Estimates stood at the pinnacle of the American intelligence establishment, for the most part with Sherman Kent at its head. His influence upon the growth of intelligence analysis, both as a process and as an institution, was at once far reaching and pervasive.
It is difficult to imagine a man more qualified for this job than Sherman Kent. This California-bred, Yale-trained historian turned intelligence officer combined superb academic training with an instinctive grasp of the problems at hand.
Moreover, his no-nonsense, shirt-sleeve style could convey often highly speculative syntheses in a form congenial to the pragmatic minds of policymakers and military men alike.
Kent's concern for the intelligence process, however, went beyond the immediate task of producing intelligence reports to a consideration of the nature of intelligence itself, to a passionate interest in the growth of intelligence analysis as a profession, and to its establishment as a scholarly discipline with a well-ordered methodology.
In thinking about intelligence, Sherman Kent nonetheless began with an understanding of national power that was well within the mainstream of contemporary American strategic thought. Kent's contribution was to apply thinking about strategy and national power to an ordered conception of intelligence analysis as an intellectual discipline.
At its most fundamental level, his work began with implicit recognition of strategic intelligence perhaps better thought of as strategic intelligence analysis as a social science. Strategy, by definition, is a plan to achieve some given end.
If we think of a national security strategy or policy as a blueprint for preserving the life and health of a nation, then there must be some idea of what that nation is: Conversely, a strategy to confront another nation in conflict--be it in war or cold war--must consider the strengths and weaknesses of a potential opponent in detail.
Central to both lines of thought is a general conception of national existence: Strategic intelligence, to use Kent's term, thus takes as its subject the sinews of national life.
In its most elevated form, it considers the nation-state to the depth and breadth of its being. This is what Sherman Kent called a nation's strategic stature: As the most fundamental component of its strategic stature, however, a nation's war potential could be seen as a benchmark for measuring its response to other, less violent, forms of confrontation and interaction.
In the immediate postwar world, with the global strategic balance polarizing into opposing power blocs, such considerations took on a whole new importance. Moreover, one global war having just ended, the possibility of another such confrontation did not seem remote in the middle of this century.
Indeed, the prospects for global war permeated American strategic culture and consistently stood uppermost in the minds of policymakers.Read Intelligence free essay and over 88, other research documents.
Intelligence. Introduction Intelligence, term usually referring to a general mental capability to reason, solve problems, think abstractly, learn and understand new 5/5(1).
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