THE COMPUTER - CAPABILITIES, PROPSECTS, AND IMPLICATIONS

Created: 9/1/1960

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

TITLE: Theapabilities, Prospects, And Implications

AUTHOR: Joseph Becker

VOLUMB:

7

IN

INTELLIGENCE

A collection of articles on Ihe historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol intelligence.

All siaiemenis of facu opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of

the auihors They do noi necessarily reflcci official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency ot any other US Govcmmeni entity, pasi or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implyingemment endorsemeni of an article's factual statements and interpretations.

InteUigence negotiates for the vetent mechanical slave.

THEPROSPECTS, AND IMPLICATIONS

Joseph Becker

Computers and auxiliary machines for the electronicasing of data are emerging as potentially revolutionarytools to extend and multiply the human skills of the community. The InteUigence agencies hare alreadyhuge sums of money for research and development and the design of advanced systems. EventuaUy thiss certain to produce radical changes in the ways IntelUgence information Is collected, transmitted, stored, and utilized.

There are two main classes of computers, digital and analog.The analog computer, given measurementsontinuum,notably time, direction, distance, or velocity, processesathematically as desired and displays the results In some measurable form. An automobile speedometeral form of very simple analog computer; It measures tbeattooar's wheels and continuously translates thisUes-per-hour reading on the dashboard. For electronic computation the input measurements may be representedhe voltages of electrical signals and processed by addition and subtraction of these voltages. One fruitful application of the analog computer Isissile guidance system. Iterts measurements of wind and missile velocity.ngle, position, time, etc,hain of output signalsdjusting the valves and control surfaces of the missile.eedback loop to the missile these makecorrection of abnormal trajectory variations. They may also be used toata-plotter on the ground forng the trajectory or displaying ItV screen.

Because they work with measurements, which can neverinfinitely precise, the analog computers are less accurateigital computers, which process discrete numbers. And since |

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maybe used to represent the or verbal symbols, tbe digital computer Is the machine has the major promise for handling the verbal data ofIt is possible, however, to pass the signal voltages of the analog computer's outputonverter which turns them into discrete numerical quantities ta digital codes that can be processedigital computer.

The Digital Computer

The abacusimple digital computer, using beads tonumerical quantities andlace to add and subtract these and one to store results. With practice acan do arithmetic on an abacus much faster than onElectronic computers like Remington Rand's UNTVAC oreries provide essentially the same facilities; but they process numbers at speeds measured ta million thsecond, have an immense storage space orunction precisely and accurately, and can process letters of thewhen these are numerically coded, treating themas if they were numbers.

The really unique featureigital computer is what is called itsts ability to choose for itself one of aof alternative procedures according to the outcome of previous computations. This feature Is the one mainlyfor the notion that digital computers are endowed with near-human or even superhuman qualities. The fancy ista the vocabulary used by the computer people: you "instruct" and "query" the machine ta Its owntsearches its memory."eveneasoned computer operator will argue on occasion that the machineersonality of its own, and his emotional involvement with the machine is such that research is being done ta man-machine relationships to arrive at the right mix of human factors for happy andworkachine as colleague or subordinate. Nevertheless, although it is true that man can evolve ways toigital computer perform operations that closely resemble human thought, and although the machine canmore informationan and process it faster and more accurately, the parallel with human skills should not be carried past the point of fanciful analogy. The machine docs

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nott ia driven throughraratlons.

Digital computers are used for solving complexequations, for engineering calculations, for statisticalfor experiments to machine translation and information retrieval, and for other precise processing of numbers oras in business accounting and banking systems. They also make it possible toide range of tests onsystem simulations called mathematical models.odelet of mathematical equations governing asay an economic system. If the equations used are valid, it is possible, by subjecting the synthetic model to variable data representing impingements on the economy, toand analyze the effects of these, and thus to predict what is likely to occureal situation. Whereas hand calculations to simulate all phases of economic interaction would not be feasible because of their sheer bulk, the job can be doneomputeratter of minutes.1

Major weapons systems can be and are similarly reduced to mathematical models to order to help determine theirImplications. The models, incorporated into computer prcgrams, are put through mathematical war games which test variant opposing strategies, weapons, tactics, logistics,nd makeapid evaluation of war planscientific and realistic basis. This is the only comprehensive peacetime test of the effectiveness of military forces,and resources and of the way they are employed.1

The languageigital computer Isinarysystem, which substitutes theor the customaryt our decimal system. Instead of runningefore carrying overecond digit, It goes onlynd then back to zero as it registers ta the next position. Instead of.,t counts, etc It Is used in digital computers because their circuits, switches, tubes, transistors, and other electronic components are most efficiently designed to have only two alternate

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iQg/non-&azumutung,

Thereimple formula for con verting from the decimal system to the binary, but the computer user does not need It: decimal and alphabetical data coded on input media such as punched cards and perforated paper tape are automatically converted to binary numbers on the way into the machine

Electronic Dataomplete EDP system basedomputer generally has

the following components:

Inputsuch as key punch machines and flexowriters for putting the data into acceptable form;that convert punched card and paper tape code to binary numbers; and equipment, usually magnetic tape units, to take data into the mam storage area of the

The computer, performing all arithmetic and logicalIts flexible ability to accept, store, select, anddata, to calculate, follow logical rules, and releasemakes It the heart of the EDP system.

A storage area, containing not only the data to be processed but also the set ofthe entire operation of the systemlace to holdresults for later use.

A control mechanism that electronically supervises andthe operations ol the several machines andfor manual interruption of the program from theconsole.

Output devices, those carrying the final results. They may produce punched cards or perforated paper tape, magnetic tape, printouts on paper or microfilm, or TV displays.

Most present-day EDP systems use magnetic tape for input and output. But storage on magnetic tape would entaila reel of it from the beginning to find any particular stored item, and several EDP systems therefore usejistorage medium,agnetic disk, in order to provide random access to individual items. Every item,on tJiedlsk has Its own electronic pigeonhole or "machinend when the machine is given that address it can proceed di-

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Vrectly to the itejn^thout^^ anyb^in the,

file.

The conditioning of an EDP system toarticular kind of problem orarticular kind of processing is the Jobrogrammer. He analyzes the problem, makes certain it is well defined, redefines it if necessary, andto preconceive all eventualities. Then, step by step, he meticulously prepares the machine's instructions,pecial set of symbolic notations furnished by thealong with the list of operations the system will perform. The program thus prepared contains not only thefor the computer but directions for moving the data from machine to machine or place to place within the system.

Automaticecent innovation designed to make programming simpler for the user, is illustrated in IBM's FORTRAN. Itmall and rigidcontains onlytatements and some simple rules ofwhich the user writes hisrepackaged programompilerthe computer to convert these to machine language as its own instructions.

The concept of automatic programming is beingtep fartherommittee of the Department of Defense. This group is engaged inompiler thatrogram set up for one manufacturers equipment to the right form for another's. Eachof EDP equipment alsosers' organization aimed at pooling the experience and the programs ot all for mutual benefit SHARE, for example, the organization ofustomers,ibrary of programsby individual members but available for use by any one. This kind of cooperation conserves costly programmingower and saves time.

Even though computer applications and progranimingbegun to scratch the surface of potentialtechnology continues to forge ahead. Theis to design faster and smaller computers, an aim

67*

ing temperatures near absolutemicromuaiacuraa-tion of circuitry. The very low temperatures increase

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lion Is achieved by reducing circuits optically or electronically to their smallest reliable size and depositing an image of the network on the surfaceafer-thin foil. Very complex circuitry can thus be builtube of stacked wafers the sizeump of sugar.

Looking ahead, designers foresee the day when refrigerated computers the sizeortable TV set will operate on wall socket power. It is symptomatic that one of the seriousproblems facing computer engineers is that ofthe length of connecting wires, which becomes more and more critical as components get smaller and signal speedsthe speed of light.

Intelligence Applications

It Is clear that these machine capabilities can be appliedumber of points in the intelligence process to Improve and accelerate It. Not that computers and other EDPconstitute any kind of panacea for our Ills; they are not glamorous Aladdin's, lamps to do our bidding while weat ease. Properly applied, they merely provideof human skills, and the calibre of intellectual effort that goes into these applications will determine the net value of the changes now certain to be thus wrought over the next few years in mtelligence methods and procedures.

We cannot yet begin to catalog the future points ofmuch less describe in just what way machines areto be used, but we can speculate about some of theprocesses likely to be affected by them.

Reportmg Media. EDP's first logical prerequisite is likely to be felt in the reporting of collected information. If we are to do any kind of large-scale electronic processing ofinformation, the natural-language cables andthat convey it to Washington must be converted to digital form. This could theoretically be done in Wasliing-ton by manual copying onto punched cards or perforatedtape or by an automatic optical scanning machine; but retyping is tooask* toi bend character-recognition conversion machines have not yet been

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is to

uitably coded version of reportsy-product of their original typing in the field.

Teletype equipment producesersion on perforated paper tape, and standard-keyboard typewriters can beto produce one; the best known tape-producing typewriter is the Flexowriter, in use in many parts of the intelligence community. Its tape can be used to drive automaticfor duplicating itself, for producing hard copy, or for telecommunications; and it can be used as input to andata processing system If such tape were the regular by-product of report typing in the field, it could serve as the medium for electric or physical transmittal to Washington, as the means for automatic reproduction of hard copy for disserrunation. and. converted to magnetic tape, as input to an EDP system for automatic indexing, abstracting, and analysisentral document repository. Experiments are already being conducted In the intelligence community to developbased on getting machine-usable versions of reports directly from the field for Immediate headquarters

Dissemination, The factachine program can be designed to.compare the words In the text of an article with wordsable to the computer's memory suggests itsuse with an Intelligence analyst's "watchSA is experimenting with this notion and developing analyst "profiles" consisting of select words and phrases. These are compared by machine with incoming information, and the matches therein are nagged for the analyst's attention. The Air Force has also developed an automatic disseminator which scans incoming information against analystin essentially the same way.'

"For the description of such an experiment see "Design for Jet-Are Reportlne" by William Bailing, Studies IV. Iff.*

See "Development* In Air Targeting: Progress and Future Prospects" by Kenneth T. Johnson. Studies ID a. p. sag.

Document Recovery. The intelligence officer dependsentral library to supply him with documents he cannot keep In his own files and with lists of documents bearing on any

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rate of0 per day to be Indexed, stored as compactly as possible, and made susceptible of rapid recovery in some form suitable for use. Machinesotential aid in all these three phases of the library problem. Tbe sernl-mecha-nized CIA Intellofax files arc now being examinediew to conversionagnetic tape and photographic system, and the Minlcard Installation in APOLN uses advanceddesigned toimilar Air Force filingt is hoped that successful machine development will reduce the need for Individuals to keep their own files by providing better central service.

Specializedritical problem with the generalfliesentral library, one aggravated as size and complexity require the use of machine methods, is theand projective difficulties in providing precise and comprehensive indexing by subject matter. These difficulties do not occur in some specialized intelligence files, like those for air target data and for name checks, which can beaccording to unambiguous features like names,and locations; and these are the logical ones on which to try the first EDP applications. Air Targets iind for CIA's millions of biographical records used hi namepecial-purpose machine complex withstorage and very large capacity is being built to prototype under the code-name WALNUT. Smaller specialized files can be processed with general-purpose EDP equipment currently on the market, some of it accompanied bygeneralized programs which need beonlyew punched cards defining the data sought, how it should be sorted, merged, or matched, and to what form the answers should print out.

"DcrclopmentB in Air Targeting: bat* Handling;y Outten J. Clliward,, p. ssrr

In these and other applications to alphabetical data one should still not lose sight of the arithmetic capability of the machines. On demand the computer can supply significant statistical data for management planning and

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etc Tbe answers can be renderedariety. of formats ranging from numbers on paper to graphsV screen. The complex reports accounting necessary in the management of some collection systems may be particularly amenable toual attack by machine.

Abstracting. Beyond their evident applicability to theof large files, machinesess obvious potential lorumber of operations which now burden the human analyst One of these is the abstracting doneibrary service or by Individual analysts for their own needs. Computer programs have been written to do word frequency counts of the text of an article, separate common words from those of graded substantiveand after some statistical analysis print out the four or five sentences ranking highest in notion words. When perfected such programs will produce automatic abstracts from texts In any language. The Army's Project ACSIMATIC, among others, is experimenting with machine abstracts of ACS!Reports.

Translation. There hasood deal of publicity for the progressachine solution of the bulkproblem, particularly of Soviet scientific literature. Somewhat sensational newspaper reports have described breakthroughs" and demonstrations leaving the impression that all machine translation problems have been solved. It Is true that an ability toulk output job intelligible to the reader has been achieved. Smooth-prose translation by machine is noteality, however, and may not be for fnany years to come. Considerable language research remains to be done, and there are still serious questions concerning an output quality adequate for mtelligence needs. But prog-fess is being made toward the day when large-scale machine franslation coupled with high-speed printing equipment will give wide and rapid dissemination of foreign texts toThe process could also be reversed and used to convert foglish to other languages for propagandaTand bUiefives.

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Statistical Analysts. Wherever therearge samples of date Involving many variables, ference techniques can be applied with good results, and com puters can be used to make the bulk manageable or to speed and Improve the work. The economic researcher, for example who may be loath to apply statistical methods to much of the date he has because it isedious and time-consuming Job, will find computers more and more useful in the future, aiding him to reorganize his data quickly Into different forms for analytic review. Eventually he may evenegular practice of devising mathematical models of economic situs-tions and using machines to help him forecast the effects of anticipated changes in conditions.

Photo interpretationatural for machine handlingthe interpreter usually begins by solving certainmathematical equations used in phologrammetry. He needs computations to obtain the precise geographicof his photo and then to get accurate measurement of objects on the ground. It is feasible to store programsomputer to solve any number of these equations and yield rapid, exact results when given the parameters of theproblem. Hand calculations may be economical and fast enough while photo-intelligence ground coverage remains limited, but the prospect of tremendous increases in coverage through satellite reconnaissance programs suggests thatare likely toominant role In the PI process in the future.

The several experimental applications of EDP thus far tried show that the powerful tools of mathematics and statistics can advantageously be used on verbal information through machine processing, which guarantees not only speed butuniformity of product by ensuring that prescribed rules are followed consistently and precisely. In time,if incoming InteUigence information begins to arrive in digital form, there is good reason to believe that moreanalytic tasks can be undertaken by the machine through the making and matching of logical combinations of words and phrases. Machine correlations may give rise to newnot suggested by the uncorrelated data. ^And:fartherl ahead Ues the possibility of using machines to performtypes of problem-solving.

The Computer

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For the past several years the Defense Department has beentactical and strategic command control systems.most widely publicized ot these isn air defense system. Items receiveda machine and dealt with in some way In the SAGEsuch things as aircraft availability, weapons availa-base capability, weather, and radar sightings. Whenaircraft have beenanual calculation ofbest distribution of weapons and interceptors to meet tbethreat is almost Impossible because of tune con-Is. The computer, however, can calculateIntercept times, assess the number and kind of bogeypresent, andeapons assignment within toler-time limits. In the present system, while themost of the routine data processing, it Is monitoredassisted by personnel who also make the more importanton threat evaluation and tactical

As in SAGE, other command control systems of there being planned so that an array of the Information,luding intelligence information, necessary for action canisplayed in readily usable form at command centers. EDP machines will be an integral part of such systems because the volume of data withommander must deal isand its interrelations so complex that it can no longer be correlated reliably and rapidly enough by manual means. Vast collection programs will back up these new systems,Intelligence data for their Input from radar, KLLNT, and other reconnaissance programs, most of it reduced to analog or digital form beforehand.

It seems reasonable to assume that data may some day also be included from non-technical intelligence products such as estimates, broadcast intercepts, communications activity assessments, agent reports,ut these would presumably first have to be computerized to be compatible with the other data displayed for the commander's evaluation. Otherwise this mtelligence contribution would be likely to follow rather

than piecede actiondeauy,.the tadicatkms^teUl;,, _ _ *

gence channel should feed information directly andinto the command control system to form an integral

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euabieenemy's immcrti^ Intent to attack. Although It does not necessarily follow that today's Indications intelligence process should be fullyto mesh smoothly with command control systems, there is sufficient Justification for serious exploration of theSince it Is already evident that EDP machines are destined ultimately to play the major role In commandplans for an automatic intelligence relationship need to be laid early in order to ensure smooth parallel development.1

Impact on the Community

If we profit by the experience of industry during the past! few years we should be prepared for some radical changes in organizational structureesult of the introduction of machines. The Uterature is filled with reports of business organizations being turned upside down getting ready to use automatic equipment There are problems of conversion parallel processing, work rearrangement, staffing, space, etcata-processing viewpoint, the objective is toalanced flow of Information through the whole organization, and this invariably cuts across departmental lines. It isto prepare against problems of this kind in the InteUigence organization If it Is examinedotal, integrated, functional system. An examination of the necessary scope and the im piementationoordinated plan wUlime of from five to seven years, an investment that may run Into tens of milUons of doUars, and the probability of outside contractual

Another kind of impact is that of machines on personnel. People are wary of the prospect of the machine "taking over, and they set up defenses to prevent it. Perhaps they can be reassured by the fact that the introduction of computers in business, while speeding up information and improvingcontrol, has neither reduced personnel in number nor replaced individuals: with no experienced pool to draw on for EDP staffing, the pattern has been toreat deal

eacripUoa of the indication intelligence process see The Monitoring of War Indicators" by Thomas J. Fatten.. SWT.

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Interzuu training of the old staff. But training tAkesIntelligence should be planning an enlightenedchronologically coordinated with the rest of

The next fire or ten years will be the period fornd experimenting with machine processing of intelligence data that will ultimately make magnetic tapes asorm ot dissemination as paper. It willeriod ofnd deliberate systems analysis, simulation, and testing. The problem of organising and manipulating information inlgence is far more complex than in business or scientificrity. It standslass by Itself and challenges solution.

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