In conjunction with HQ 2 Div our first CoveTalk of 2023 brings the return of the 2 Div PME Series.
This CoveTalk is titled Critical Thinking for Military Professionals. It consists of a presentation by Major Jeremy Barraclough, HQ 2 Div, followed by a Q&A session.
Increasingly, professionals from the military are being called upon for the experience and expertise to solve complex problems. These problems are growing more complex because they involve more actors, with more involvement, and more agency. The critical thinker can break down and recompose ideas. They can draw upon and include previous understanding from related and unrelated concepts to improve or create new understanding. Therefore, critical thinking will continue to be of particularly relevance to military thinkers. Join Jeremy for a look into critical thinking amongst the military in this introductory session to kick off the 2023 2 Div PME sessions.
The CoveTalk was livestreamed at 1600h AEDT on Tuesday, 28 February 2023. Thank you to all who attended in-person and online. Check out the entire CoveTalk below.
Major Jeremy Barraclough is an Infantry Officer with a particular interest in irregular warfare. He has deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and on domestic security operations. He has command experience at platoon and company level including coalition, joint and interagency collaboration.
For more CoveTalks, check out The Cove’s Features.
Here is a quick resource from Dr Gerras that is of great help in understanding how critical thinking can help military professionals.
I also agree one of the key challenges for this skill is the continued trajectory for AI. There are a number of developments that are complicating our ability to know if people are ‘outsourcing’ their thinking. I tested the ChatGP chatbot, and it gave me this answer (which is pretty good)
Critical thinking is the process of objectively analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information or ideas to form a reasoned judgment or decision. It involves carefully examining assumptions, questioning arguments, assessing evidence, identifying biases, and considering alternative perspectives.
Critical thinking skills can be applied in a variety of contexts, including academic, professional, and personal situations. They are essential for making well-informed decisions, solving problems effectively, and communicating persuasively.
Some key components of critical thinking include:
Analysis: Breaking down complex ideas or information into smaller parts to better understand them.
Evaluation: Assessing the credibility, relevance, and quality of information or arguments.
Inference: Drawing logical conclusions based on the available evidence.
Interpretation: Interpreting and explaining the meaning of information or data.
Explanation: Clearly communicating ideas and reasoning to others.
Overall, critical thinking involves using reasoning, evidence, and careful evaluation to form informed judgments and make intelligent decisions.
I don’t know the answer to this challenge, although I do know it’s already confounding educational institutions. I suspect AI will revolutionise our ability to assess, develop and monitor a person's ability to critically think.
I agree, understanding AI and how we use it is going to be a challenge. I think that it is just going to become part of our life, just like smart phones, Siri and google maps.
I’m actually pretty hopeful that we’ll get somewhere useful though. I think AI could be useful in bringing some material to the thinker from the wealth of knowledge out there. It will be able to illuminate connections between information. However, I think it will still be up to a human to infer the meaning and patterns of connections.
My hope is that the AI will be able to deal with the routine and mundane. That way, the critical thinker will be afforded more capacity for better problems to consider.
Thanks for the comment!
Thinking humans can synthesise completely novel solutions from limited data. Exactly the environment in which military operations are conducted. Of course AI can be an aid where the inputs exist.
Richard has given a reasonable definition of critical thinking as composed by ChatGPT based on 'stuff it found on the internet in 2021.' It's little more than "spicy predictive text." Which is useful when you are looking for a definition. But it's not advancing the art.
You are absolutely right that AI will just harvest data from what exists. Potentially it, and those using it, may not see where their limits of knowledge or data exist. This is another heuristic some describe as WYSIATI, or “What You See Is All There Is”.
The critical thinker, however, will understand the limits of their own data and knowledge. They will be aware of it and where they are creating assumptions. The creative thinker can also synthesise data to create new predictions for these unknown or unseen spaces. I’d argue that AI is incapable of doing that today.
Great observation and thanks for reaching out!