Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data for Command & Control (C2)
The SecDef Forum gathered an audience of some forty representatives of Members States, NATO, EU institutions and industry to exchange on the transformation of C2, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data on 8th January 2019 in Brussels. General Jean-Paul Paloméros, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and now Senior Advisor at CEIS, chaired the discussions.
The breakfast meeting started with a presentation of the current state of play and challenges, focusing on the explosion of data generated, known as Big Data, within the Armed Forces. Understood by the « 4 Vs » (Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity), Big Data poses numerous challenges for Command & Control, including the traceability of data and decisions, the risk of losing high-value information, issues of systems interconnectivity, and the resilience and securing of C2 systems.
AI can provide a valuable tool against these challenges, in particular regarding the velocity and volume of data. Discussions alluded to several specific advantages of AI. AI technologies can quickly perform numerous actions on data : gathering, merging, signal detection (including weak signals), analysis and synthesis production, proposing options. These actions impart AI with a number of added-value functions within the C2, such as the improvement of operational awareness, reduction of the volume of information to enable humans to focus on relevant nuggets and, from a broader perspective, support to decision-making.
AI functions in the military field are not limited to kinetic effects, with AI technologies offering a strong potential in logistics, resources management (human and material), medicine, lessons-learned or training.
Axel Dyèvre, Managing Partner at CEIS, gave a presentation on the optimisation of human-machine interaction based on data volume and structuration. It is key to reflect on humans’ role within C2, in particular in the sensitive world of military affairs, as Command & Control systems integrate ever more AI technologies. In addition, AI requires operating conditions that are not always possible for the Armed Forces, especially on mission: continuous connectivity, access to structured data and trust in technology.
CEIS Senior Manager Pierre Goetz’s contribution shone a light on different national approaches (USA, China, Russia, Israel), focusing on strategic visions, means and ambitions for military uses of AI.
This SecDef Forum generated dynamic exchanges among participants, including on «downgraded mode » and technology dependance. The need to integrate private sector innovation and expertise integration into the military world came up, as did the importance of educating the general public to military uses of AI to go beyond the headline-grabbing slogans about « killer robots ».