Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming an increasingly potent technology, leveraged by the private and public sectors. The newly released Defence Artificial Intelligence Strategy is therefore welcomed, and this short piece will highlight the main points from the strategy.

The four main pillars of the strategy are:

  • Transforming the MoD into an ‘AI ready’ organisation
  • Adopting and exploiting AI at pace and scale for Defence advantage
  • Strengthening the UK’s Defence and security AI ecosystem
  • Shaping global AI developments to promote security, stability, and democratic values

AI is very much being led by the commercial sector, a fact that the MoD recognises. Therefore, MoD will encourage utilising existing AI technologies with little or no adaptation; this allows for seamless integration of AI into future technologies. It will also create an AI Concept Playbook that priorities these techniques.

Along with this strategy, the MoD has released a ‘Ambitious, Safe, Responsible’ paper, that aims to uphold the standards and values for AI, in the goal to demonstrate trustworthiness and transparency. AI in decision making can raise profound issues with bias, reliability, and fairness; especially in instances which lead to conflict in an operational context. A keen understanding is required by the necessary people using it, and by the designers for its use to be safe and ethical. Therefore, this additional paper is welcomed.

The MoD’s approach to AI will be ‘international by design’: sharing best practice; promoting talent exchange; and developing solutions to address common challenges. This supports the NATO’s AI strategy paper released at the end of 2021, emphasising the importance of collective collaboration and cooperation among member states.

An important aspect for the MoD is nurturing current talent and incentivising new talent to flow into the sector. The strategy outlines that the MoD will proactively drive changes to its culture, skills, and policies by training leaders, upskilling the workforce, and strengthening the Defence AI & Autonomy Unit.

Many initiatives have been created for incentivising new talent to be added to the defence pool. Most notably, by developing new mechanisms to identify AI talent and exploring options for ‘Unified Career Management’ to improve the ability to retain and develop personnel.

Increasing and retaining the volume of talent has shown to be an issue for the entire defence industry and it is reassuring that the MoD is taking this very seriously. On top of this, the MoD will mandate that all senior leaders across Defence have a strong understanding of AI as a concept and implications for their respective organisations through AI leadership training programmes.

Perhaps one of the more important announcements within the strategy is the delivery of an Defence AI Centre (DAIC). It will act as the visionary hub, driving AI development; enabling and coordinating AI projects; and providing access to services and sources of expertise for the sector. This was a necessary step to drive the changes that are required.

The investment, new structures, and new approach will help foster the use of AI within the world of defence. The serious consideration given to the ethical issues faced when dealing with this sort of technology are especially important. This new approach to AI will be warmly welcomed by industry.