Military no longer at the forefront in most digital projects

Speaking about the Positives and the Dark Side of a Hyper-Connected World at the Business BSF, Dr Thomas Killion, Chief Scientist at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), pointed out that the military is no longer at the forefront in most digital projects.

“Because of the nature of the way technology has gone, commercial technology is a dominant piece of the fabric of our military systems, but there are core components of the military systems that will never become commercialised, at least I hope not,” he said, listing various types of weapons technology.

According to the NATO chief scientist, commercial investment is now so much larger that “we have to look at it in a different way from the military side in terms of how we harvest it, how do we exploit it, how do we adopt it for our needs.”

Dr Killion listed opportunities and challenges in various fields, including autonomy and AI.

Certainly, unmanned vehicles and similar machines can go out there and do things that “we do not want to expose our young men or women to”.

However, there is always the issue of making certain that the technology “does not go crazy”. “These are tools, it’s about what constraints you build in and how you do that.”

Moreover, he believes that “the threshold for actually engaging in military action is likely not to change, because that is still driven by the social and political dynamic among the people involved”.

Turning to NATO, Dr Killion pinpointed science and technology organisation as one of the advantages of the alliance, as members share knowledge, share information and collaboratively explore technology.

“We have to have a robust programme of science and technology … how do we make advances, where can we take advantage of technology and what are the issues that we need to address in terms of using that for military applications,” he said, noting that this was why “we must keep young people excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics”.

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