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Plans for the future of cutting-edge UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) defence technology have been unveiled in a new strategy published this week at London Tech Week AI Summit.

The strategy and accompanying policy on the ‘Ambitious, Safe and Responsible’ use of AI underpin a new Defence AI Centre (DAIC), which will offer a visionary hub to champion, enable and innovate these technologies across the UK Armed Forces with pace and ambition.

In the face of ever-evolving threats to global security, the Defence AI Strategy outlines how the UK will prioritise research, development, and experimentation to revolutionise the UK’s Armed Forces capabilities through new concepts and cutting-edge technology to deliver the latest equipment to the battlefield through effective, efficient, trusted pathways.

Concepts include AI-enabled autonomous combat vehicles and resupply systems to deliver supplies without putting people in danger, or soldiers on the front-line guided by smart systems drawing on hours of detailed footage captured by a series of small drones.

Also published is policy on the ‘Ambitious, Safe and Responsible’ use of AI, developed through creative partnership with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI), including new ethical principles for the use of AI in Defence.

These will make sure that Defence makes the best and responsible use of the technology, both to retain the confidence of the public and the UK’s partners and to hold others to account for irresponsible behaviours.

Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin, said: “Future conflicts may be won or lost on the speed and efficacy of AI technology, and our approach to AI must be rapid, ambitious and comprehensive.

“Our new Defence AI Centre (DAIC) and AI strategy will create a focused hub to champion these technologies, working ethically hand in hand with human judgements to maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global security and responsible innovation.”

Further to this, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have awarded a £7 million contract to Northern Ireland based company Kainos, partnering with AI specialist Faculty Science Ltd and defence experts Actica, to deliver world-class artificial intelligence experimentation.

The contract will support up to 20 highly skilled data science jobs across the UK as well as developing new specialist roles to reinforce safe, ethical, and operational AI.

Dr Paul Kealey, Head of Dstl’s Cyber and Information Systems Division said: “Dstl is delivering the most ambitious programme in its 20-year history – and we can only deliver on this by working with diverse talent from across industry and academia.

“AI has the potential to provide significant benefits across Defence from the back-office to the Front Line and I’m delighted we are working with Kainos – a brand new supplier who will bring specialist expertise and experience as a leader in the civil world into defence.”

Defence’s commitment to strengthen security and modernise theUK’s armed forces was outlined in the Integrated Review, and the use of AI is a key to achieving that objective.

The AI Strategy highlights how the MOD will be transformed into an ‘AI ready’ organisation and in doing so, will support the government’s wider ambitions for the UK to become a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030.

The announcements took place during London Tech Week, and the minister made clear at the AI Summit that AI-enabled military capabilities will always be in line with UK ethical values, standards, and legal obligations, and that there remain instances where human judgement will always be necessary.

Building on the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper – which was backed by an additional £24 billion for Defence over four years – the Defence AI Strategy will form a key element of the National AI Strategy and reinforces Defence’s place at the heart of the Government’s drive for strategic advantage through science and technology.

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Post written by: Matt Brown


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