Hybrid Threats: artificial intelligence, cybernetics and robotics

Hybrid Threats: artificial intelligence, cybernetics and robotics
04 / 07 / 2018, 12:00

On 18th June 2018 the Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Aleš Opata announced that one of the Czech Army's priorites concerns the development of forces, and mentioned formation of a new cybernetic forces and information operations headquarters. On 27th June a workshop entitled „Hybrid Threats“ was held, focused on artificial intelligence, cybernetics and robotics.

On 18th June 2018 the Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Aleš Opata announced that one of the Czech Army's priorites concerns the development of forces, and mentioned formation of a new cybernetic forces and information operations headquarters. On 27th June a workshop entitled „Hybrid Threats“ was held in Thurn-Taxis palace, attended by Deputy Minister of Defence – Head of the Armaments and Acquisition Division Daniel Koštoval, Rector of the Czech Technical University (ČVUT) in Prague Vojtěch Petráček, director of the Military Technical Institute (VTÚ) Jiří Protiva, director of research and developement of the VOP CZ Martin Sedlář, and manager of the NATO ACT Innovation Hub Serge Da Deppo. The workshop focused on artificial intelligence, cybernetics and robotics, and was organized by the Defense and Security Innovatio Hub led by Kristina Soukupová, the „Doctor of War.“

The White Paper on Defence published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2011 defines general tasks and principles of service in the domains which apparently would belong to the responsability of the new HQ: Information and Communication Technologies; Cyber Security; Information Operations; Strategic Communication; Research, Experimental Development and Innovations.

The White Paper says, among other:

  • „The quantity of information, which must be processed and safely shared with other military and civilian partners, has been growing considerably (...) The Ministry of Defence strives to operate information and communication technologies with a maximum level of security; it recruits and maintains qualified personnel to operate and protect them.“
  • „The list of main missions in the field of cybernetic security includes protection of the MoD communication and information structure against cybernetic attacks and support to the armed forces throughout the entire spectrum of computer operations.“
  • „The Ministry of Defence, in coordination with the national entity accredited with cybernetic security, contributes to protecting the Czech Republic against cybernetic threats.“
  • „The Czech Republic has unique research and development capacities in the sphere of cybernetic security. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence actively develops this capability not only in the national but allied context as well.“
  • „The importance of information operations as a key method for achieving and maintaining information superiority has increased mainly during the last 10 to 15 years (2011). The capability of responding to new threats resulting from a rapid growth of informatisation of the society on a global scale must be interconnected with the process of building and developing the Czech Armed Force’s operational capabilities.“
  • „In a world dominated by media, the Ministry of Defence must be able to establish and maintain fast, reliable, effective and consistent communication with key internal, external, national and international target groups.“
  • „The Ministry of Defence has an interest in supporting various projects in the field of research, experimental development and innovations that will lead to development of the Czech Armed Force’s capabilities and potentially strengthen competitiveness of the Czech economy.“

These definitions were made seven years ago. Meanwhile, the cyberattacks are becoming more frequent, sophisticated and destructive, as stated, not only, in the article „Regulate artificial intelligence to avert cyber arms race“ published by Nature, written by Mariarosaria Taddeo and Luciano Floridi who urge to „define an international doctrine for cyberspace skirmishes before they escalate into conventional warfare.“ It’s within this context the formation of the new Czech Army cybernetic forces and information operations headquarters is announced.

The auditorium of the recent „Hybrid Threats“ workshop (which follows the „Hybrid threats: Call for Cross-Sector Collaboration“ workshop held in March), composed of representatives of academia, public, military and private organizations, was offered a platform to discuss the needs, capabilities and possibilites existing within the domain of artificial intelligence, cybernetics and robotics, and creation of innovative solutions suitable for the security stabilization in the world for the 21st century, through potential close collaboration between concerned organizations. Which is the aim of the Defense and Security Innovatio Hub: to „bring together industry, academia, national and international organizations mainly from the defense and security domains so that they can learn from each other and ultimately innovate.“

The artificial intelligence (AI) is one of key subjects studied and discussed among experts on hybrid threats, both as a threat and a mean of protection, and generally the topics sound abstract to people who are not experts. NATO believes in incorporating artificial intelligence in its decision-making process. The AI should play a major role in big data analytics, given the amount of data shared among the 29 NATO members (and not just the armed forces or national and multinational institutions but defence industry and academic sphere) is huge. It should help NATO to store and process the data through a cloud computing architecture. It also offers a solution to the key issue of distribution of data which is essential to instruct and empower subordinate levels of command to take action when necessary. And last but not least, NATO is considering using AI as a tool to help render decisions on important matters, to avoid issues of human indecisiveness and people being persuaded to vote differently than expected.

The cybernetics and cyber security are another domain which sees rapid development and belongs among NATO’s priorities, as it faces an evolving complex threat environment. In recent events, cyber attacks have been part of hybrid warfare. The cyber defence is part of NATO’s core task of collective defence, with the main focus to protect own networks and enhance relsilience across the Alliance. NATO provides Cyber Rapid Reaction teams to assist Allies upon request and approval, 24 hours a day. The Alliance is also intensifying its cooperation with industry through the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership.

The robotics is already changing the face of the modern war and offers solutions in many related aspects, not just logistical or medical but combat. The use of unmanned vehicles in combat is already common, and so are controversies concerning ethical and legal questions and human reponsabilities. These will be taken on a whole new dimension with the Lethal autonomous robots (LARs). Artificial intelligence autonomously deciding on it’s targets based upon combination of assignement and situation analysis would avoid human errors, yet one of the critical problems is to anticipate how the LARs would respond to unexpected circumstances. And many more.

During the „Hybrid Threats“ workshop a memorandum on collaboration has been signed between the Czech Technical University (ČVUT) and the Military Technical Institute (VTÚ). Both parties conceive the workshop and the memorandum as an important milestone for future collaboration in the field of the above mentioned domains.


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