Understanding the issues
The SecDef Forum aims to provide a regular opportunity for dialogue between end-users, policy-makers and industry in European security and defence. The SecDef Forum contributes to the development of European security and defence by delivering concrete outputs, innovative ideas, concrete recommendations, and roadmaps to provide national, European and NATO policymakers innovative food for thought grounded in real users’ experiences. The SecDef Forum comprises breakfast sessions, briefings and workshops with restricted groups of 30-50 participants for exchanges of best practises and lessons learnt – for instance from an operation, crisis or programme. Held under the Chatham House rule, these sessions allow participants to deep dive into one particular issue.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data for Command & Control (C2)
8th January 2019, Brussels
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 ».
Innovation for Europe's security & defence forces
20th November 2018, Brussels
The first breakfast session of the SecDef Forum took place on 20th November 2018 with an audience of some 40 representatives from European institutions (Commission, Parliament, Council, EDA), Member States (France, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Greece), NATO and industry.
Axel Dyèvre, CEIS Managing Partner, presented CEIS’s experience in developing the concept of a lab dedicated to detecting civilian innovation relevant to the Armed Forces and running it for the French Defense procurement and technology agency since 2013, bringing in startups and SMEs. In 6 years of operation, the CEIS team organised 120 activities welcomed 5,000 participants and presenting 160 companies. 30% of them went on to be contracted as a result.
The « DGA Lab method » brings civilian innovation to the MoD, bridging the gap between operational Armed Forces’ operational requirements and existing technological solutions, and facilitates a quick adoption of solutions. It can easily be replicated in other fields, such as civil security, and in others countries. The results highlight the relevance of the method and of the solutions selected by the CEIS team.
The presentation was followed by a discussion on the length of armed forces’ acquisition cycles, in direct opposition to those of the innovation ecosystem, and on the need to stimulate innovation in Europe. The financing of disruptive technologies by the European Defence Fund was brought up, as was the need to create a community to include new actors.