Defence Artificial Intelligence Strategy Summary



On 15 June 2022, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) published their ‘Defence Artificial Intelligence Strategy’ policy paper. The vision outlined in the strategy is for the UK to become the world’s most effective, efficient, trusted and influential defence organisation of its size, in terms of AI. The paper is broken up by the strategy’s four objectives and then followed by strategy implementation and looking toward the future. Atticus Communications have summarised the key components of the strategy.

Transform Defence into an ‘AI ready’ organisation

To undergo such a transformation, the MoD will:

  • Upskill leaders and workforce, recruiting key talent
  • Address policy challenges
  • Modernise digital, data and technology enablers

The strategy focuses on three areas to attract and train the best talent: those who build, use and want to be inspired by AI. In order to understand its AI skills requirements, modernise recruiting and retention offer, the MoD will develop a Defence AI Skills Framework, aligned with the Pan Defence Skills Framework and head by the newly established Head of AI Profession, and identify and solve policy barriers.

The MoD will establish a Digital Foundry to bring together and build on its existing assets to deliver innovative software-intensive capabilities. The Defence AI Centre (DAIC) is part of the Foundry and will act as a visionary hub, enable and coordinate development, delivery and scaling of AI projects, and provide access to strengthening pan-Department digital/data services and sources of expertise.

Adopt and exploit AI at pace and scale for defence advantage

To adopt and exploit AI in a way which would give the UK a defence advantage, the MoD will:

  • Organise for success
  • Exploit near and longer-term opportunities
  • Systemic experimentation
  • Collaborate internationally

AI transformation will take place across the Department. The Head Office will set the overall AI policy and strategy and ensure overall programmatic coherence, business units and Functional Leaders will pursue AI relevant to them, and Strategic Command will ensure strategic and operational integration of AI-enabled capability across warfighting domains.

The MoD will establish a joint warfare centre to tackle the various AI-related operational challenges, initially based on the DAIC and Joint Force Cyber Group with contributions from Defence Science and Technology (S&T), Joint Force Development, intelligence and other warfare centres. Allied with the National Cyber Force and National Cyber Security Centre.

Defence plans to work across government, including with the Prime Minister’s new National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency, UKRI National AI Research and Innovation Programme, AI Council and Office for Artificial Intelligence. 

Strengthen the UK’s defence and security AI ecosystem

To strengthen the UK’s AI ecosystem for defence and security, MoD will:

  • Build confidence and clarify requirements
  • Address commercial barriers
  • Incentivise engagement and co-creation
  • Support business growth

Defence plans to work across sectors with tech companies and UK universities to strengthen its own use of AI and capabilities as well as have the public sector “lead from the front”, showcasing safe, ethical and rapid AI deployment. In its academic and private sector partnerships, the MoD will be transparent in its use of AI, encouraging scrutiny and challenge via the AI Ethics Advisory Panel, clearly specify its use of algorithms and applications through Early Market Engagement and publish information on key safeguards.

Shape global AI developments to promote security, stability and democratic values

To shape global AI developments to promote security, stability and democratic values, the MoD will:

  • Champion responsible global AI development
  • Promote security and stability
  • Develop future security policy

As AI becomes more and more pervasive, the MoD plans to significantly alter the dynamics of global security. The MoD plans to use AI for geostrategic competition, both as a means for technological and commercial advantage and as a battleground for competition ideologies. Although not stated, this is particularly of interest now during the war in Ukraine with Russia and technologically savvy China posing a great threat to security and stability in the South China Sea.

To promote security and stability, the MoD aims to use AI for counter-proliferation and arms control, protecting critical technologies and minimising risk. For future policy, the MoD stresses understanding the intersection of AI trends with other factors, such as economics, politics, demographics, society, diplomacy and the strategic power of big tech.

Strategy implementation and beyond

In the final section of the policy paper, the immediate priorities at the Defence level are listed as:

  • Immediate change to its data structure to start building curated data-sets necessary for AI adoption
  • Delivering the DAIC as in Initial Operating Capability
  • Developing and embedding the ‘Ambitious, Safe, Responsible’ approach to AI in Defence
  • Creating and communicating technology/programme roadmaps and the first iteration of the AI Technology Strategy

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