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The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the military sphere has been widening in many countries. AI can be defined as a family of general-purpose technologies, that may enable machines to perform tasks normally requiring human or biological intelligence, especially when the machines learn from data how to do those tasks.

AI has enormous potential to enhance capabilities, but it is sometimes described as a potential threat, raising various dilemmas. In the UK, the Ministry of Defence has decided to outline a new strategy with regard to this powerful technology.

The Ministry has published its first Defence AI Strategy focusing on ambition, innovation and responsibility, and reflecting a new approach to cooperation with the private sector.

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for defense procurement, described AI as the most transformative and disruptive area of new technology that could reshape the future of conflict, suggesting that AI is “a strategic national resource as vital now as coal was once to the industrial age,” according to techmonitor.ai.

The strategy published on June 15 by gov.uk elaborates on the importance of AI to the UK’s defense modernization, mentioning soldiers on the front line, trained in highly-developed synthetic environments, guided by portable command and control devices analyzing and recommending different courses of action, fed by database capturing and processing the latest information from hundreds of small drones capturing thousands of hours of footage.” The statement goes on to describe “autonomous resupply systems and combat vehicles, delivering supplies and effects more efficiently without putting our people in danger..” 

Minister Quinn said that partnerships with the private sector will be encouraged and processes modernized across the AI sector, including increased access to defense data and capabilities and “specialist computing infrastructure.”

The MoD has been already using digital technologies across the spectrum, including the recent purchase of its first quantum computer, a UK-built computer that “will be used to speed up the process of analyzing large sets of data from sensors and other equipment,” according to techmonitor.ai.