A Ministry Of Intelligence?

It is towards sustainable evolution that the word 'intelligence' should find its proper use. Now most commonly applied to the areas of market and national security, this concept can also be used to describe at the national level that which was previously confined to the level of the individual. It is the higher level ability to use information to make judgments, evaluations and inferences and to use this knowledge for beneficial action and coherent adaptation to the environment. (Dedijer & Jequier 1987:14)

Additionally, implicit in the notion of planning for increased intelligence on the national scale is the need for a democratic approach to governance and a political morality which many Third World elites and intellectuals and their counterparts in the developed world might find uncomfortable.

That there is a link between information processes and survival is axiomatic. Those of us who believe that life is something more than mere survival, focus on the link between information processes and improvement of the quality of life (although the life threatening problems which assail modern societies would make 'quality of survival' a more realistic interpretation). The main stumbling block facing information policy makers, if they appreciate the gravity of the issues involved - is how to encapsulate within the limiting pages of a policy document, guidelines which must in essence describe how best to harness the seemingly volatile, pervasive, boundary defying, all encompassing nature of information.

It helps, if one is anxious to avoid oversimplification and reductionism, that information has many faces. A policy which focuses on only one facet will ultimately be just that- a policy on one aspect of information. Information as thing can be recorded or not. It can be said to be non-existent, i.e. when it has not yet been recorded, lost, or recorded but inaccessible. Information exists also as recorded thing or artifact. This is the information typically stored in libraries, databases, in memory, in language, in art, culture, oral history.

Information can be a process. This takes place in every single activity-natural or artificial. This is the process of communication by which living and artificial systems interact with their environments and/or other systems through information processing, e.g. formal education, reading, media It is also important to mention that the search for previously unrecorded information - which could be either deliberate, e.g. research or accidental, e.g. during research and serendipitous experiences - is also an informational process.

There is also information as knowledge. This can be viewed as the end result of the process of informing. The quality of this depends on a variety of factors including the quality of the recorded information and the quality of the process of communication which is also influenced by the qualities of the receiver. This illustrates why the merging of communication theory (which focuses on the construction of meaning and the nature of human message-related behavior) and information science was not surprising(Ruben 1992:17). This justifies the inclusion of information and communication issues in information policy formulation. They are inseparable.

The 'quality of survival' depends however on a final stage. This is the higher level ability to use information to make judgments, evaluations and inferences and to use this knowledge for beneficial action and coherent adaptation to the environment. (Dedijer & Jequier 1987:14)

It is with the information and communications policy which has as its goal the sustaining and improvement of this intelligence which is of concern to me. This does not mean a de-emphasizing of the importance of intelligences relating to specific issues, e.g. economic & financial intelligence, scientific & technological intelligence, market intelligence, political intelligence, security intelligence, development intelligence, environmental intelligence and diplomatic intelligence.

Just as there are multiple intelligences (Armstrong 1994) evident in the human being, there are multiple areas where intelligence activity is required at the national and international levels. However, it has been the trend in the past to give too much weight and at the expense of others, to certain areas which were deemed to be more critical at one time or another to some popular or political thrust. Those which seemed to be of immediate relevance to human development were put on the back burners.

The truth is that all are of equal importance because taken together the maintenance of excellence at all levels will serve to provide the environment which is conducive to sustainable development. Furthermore, this social intelligence which must be developed, cannot be limited by simply national concerns and goals. The nation is not a closed system. This is why thus far, the term national intelligence has been avoided deliberately. The attainment of social intelligence requires that all individuals be provided with the tools and the propensity to interact intelligently with the environment. The permeability of systems borders - whether natural or artificial - renders myopia anachronistic.

ARMSTRONG, Thomas (1994. Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, .
DEDIJER, Stevan & JEQUIER, Nicolas (Eds.) (1987). Intelligence for economic development: An inquiry into the role of the knowledge industry. Oxford: Berg Publishers.
RUBEN, Brent D. (January 1992). The communication-information relationship in system-theoretic perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 43 (1), 15-27.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!