Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping and revolutionising several sectors of civil society by improving efficiency and reducing costs, with the military and defence fields also joining in this AI revolution (Richemond-Barak, 2022). AI can be defined as a system that solves complex tasks through adopting human approaches, including learning, creating, cognitive thinking, adapting and communicating (Nadikattu, 2020). Much of the discussion about AI is focused on its negative aspects, ignoring the positive implications that it can have for military affairs and decision-making processes, especially in order to protect civilians and reduce casualties, as well as in organizing counter-terrorism operations (Richemond-Barak, 2022).
Allied foreign ministers met in Brussels on 6 -7 April 2022 and approved the Charter of the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic or DIANA. DIANA will bring industry, start-up companies and academia together to research new dual-use technologies to solve critical defence and security challenges. The alliance has also announced additions to the technology list DIANA will focus on what NATO has identified as priorities, including artificial intelligence, big-data processing, quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotechnology, novel materials and space. (NATO website, 2022).
Cyberspace has become the fifth battlespace in an increasingly complex security landscape, and cyber threats have been part of the international security arena. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has tackled cyber threats for over a decade. NATO’s awareness towards cyber threats started rising in the late 1990s, following cyber-attacks by Serbian hackers against NATO Supreme Command’s (SHAPE) website during the air bombing campaign on Serbian positions in the frame of the Kosovo war. The cyber-attacks against Estonia in 2007 and in the context of the conflict in Georgia in 2008 urged the Alliance to take these new threats seriously.
The idea of using robots in warfare dates back to the 1940s. From WW2-era German Goliaths and Soviet teletanks to Cold War Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), we are steadily moving towards a more robotised battlefield. Projects are many, and development is encouraging, but not without its problems: military and ethical questions quickly come to the surface with high costs.
On 22 October, NATO unveiled its new strategy regarding the future use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This acknowledges the fact that AI is altering the state of defence and security globally and is likely to lead to more technologically advanced threats to the organisation. As such, NATO plans to keep its technological edge through a joint plan to advance its use of AI in defence and security.