NATO Publishes An Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Defence ministers of NATO countries have agreed to the treaty’s first ever strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI). The NATO allies have prioritised AI as one of the seven technological areas with respect to defence and security.  These include  quantum-enabled technologies, data and computing, autonomy, biotechnology and human enhancements, hypersonic technologies, and space.

AI is changing the global defence and security environment and offers an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen NATO's technological edge but will also escalate the speed of the threats NATO members face.

This is intended to be a foundational technology change that will likely affect the full spectrum of activities undertaken by NATO  in support of its three core tasks; collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.

AI offers the ability for machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, is transforming the international security environment in which NATO operates.  Due to its cross-cutting nature, AI will pose a broad set of international security challenges, affecting both traditional military capabilities and the realm of hybrid threats, and will likewise provide new opportunities to respond to them. 

AI will have an impact on all of NATO’s core tasks of collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. NATO see  AI as a powerful dual use technology which can be used in combination with others like big data, autonomy and biotechnology.

To address this complex challenge, NATO Defence Ministers also approved NATO’s first policy on data exploitation. Individual strategies will be developed for all priority areas, following the same ethical approach as that adopted for AI. In the future the NATO Alliance aims to integrate AI to support its core tasks and the strategy in accord with international law will be underpinned by cooperation between NATO, the private sector, academia and cyber defences.

NATO has committed to ensuring that the AI applications they develop and consider for deployment will be in accordance with the following six principles:

•    Lawfulness: AI applications will be developed and used in accordance with national and international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, as applicable.

•    Responsibility and Accountability: AI applications will be developed and used with appropriate levels of judgment and care; clear human responsibility shall apply in order to ensure accountability.

•    Explainability and Traceability: AI applications will be appropriately understandable and transparent, including through the use of review methodologies, sources, and procedures. This includes verification, assessment and validation mechanisms at either a NATO and/or national level.

•    Reliability: AI applications will have explicit, well-defined use cases. The safety, security, and robustness of such capabilities will be subject to testing and assurance within those use cases across their entire life cycle, including through established NATO and/or national certification procedures.

•    Governability: AI applications will be developed and used according to their intended functions and will allow for: appropriate human-machine interaction; the ability to detect and avoid unintended consequences; and the ability to take steps, such as disengagement or deactivation of systems, when such systems demonstrate unintended behaviour.

•    Bias Mitigation: Proactive steps will be taken to minimise any unintended bias in the development and use of AI applications and in data sets.

The strategy outlines how AI can be applied to defence and security in a protected and ethical way. As such, it sets standards of responsible use of AI technologies, in accordance with international law and NATO’s values. It also addresses the threats posed by the use of AI by adversaries and how to establish trusted cooperation with the innovation community on AI.

NATO:      NATO:      NATO:     AirForce Technology

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