NATO’s Plan for AI

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Ananya Avasthi
October 29, 2021
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2020 and 2021 have had many advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) – machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. To know more about AI, click here.  AI is currently on its way to transforming NATO operations by changing the international security environment. AI has infinite uses so, AI has a lot of international security challenges, which affect traditional military capabilities, which can provide new opportunities in response to them. AI will transfigure all of NATO’s core tasks of collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security.  This dynamic brings new opportunities, risks, and threats to prosperity and security at stake. The pros and cons connected to this foundational technology are too vast for any single entity to determine alone. In that respect, cooperation is required to properly tackle international security risks. It is also necessary to capitalize on the technology’s potential to revolutionize enterprise functions, mission support, and operations.

Since the adoption of the NATO AI Strategy, Allies are working towards cooperation and collaboration to meet these requirements in terms of both defense and security, NATO as the primary transatlantic forum. The goal of NATO’s AI Strategy is to speed up the process for AI adoption by amplifying key AI enablers and adapting policy, this includes adopting Principles of Responsible Use for AI. All these precautions are taken in order to avoid the malicious use of AI by state and non-state actors.

NATO’s Approach for AI

 A document published by NATO Spoke about “collaboration and cooperation” among members on “any matters relating to AI for transatlantic defense and security.” The document charts the principles of NATO for “responsible use for AI,” these principles will serve as an AI standard globally.


AI applications will be developed keeping in mind national and international law, which includes international humanitarian law.

Responsibility and Accountability 

AI applications will be created and used with fitting levels of judgment and care. Clarity of human responsibility shall be applied to fortify accountability.

Explainability and Traceability 

AI applications will be reviewed on the basis of methodologies, sources, and procedures. Verification, assessment, and validation will take place at a NATO or national level.


All AI applications will have well-defined explanations of their designed usage. Since AI has huge potential the safety and security will be put in place for protection within those use cases across their entire life cycle, this also includes certification processes for NATO or national procedures.


AI applications will only be created and approved for specific purposes that are human-friendly. This means the AI would be trained to detect and avoid unintended consequences. There should be a system set in place to disengage or deactivate in case the AI portrays unapproved behavior.

Bias Mitigation 

Proactive steps must be administered to minimize any unintended bias while developing the AI applications and data sets for training.

The Deliberation

Now, these principles have been mutually agreed upon, it is time to put these principles into action. These are safeguards to tackle various issues as technology advances. Instilling these principles of responsible use into the forefront of AI development is paramount. This is because if one delays in practically applying these principles, it will be very hard to keep a check on whether they are being upheld or not. A good multi-stakeholder engagement ensures a full life-cycle approach because the responsibility is dispersed between the policymakers, designers, developers, and testers, etc. This is relevant to NATO because various entities play an active role in AI integration, and because the Alliance encourages coherence when it comes to AI developments.

Military reports state in the next two days the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will join other NATO members in Brussels, Belgium, the alliance's headquarters, to finally approve matters. Earlier, at a news conference, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg exclaimed that the effort was in response to "authoritarian regimes racing to develop new technologies." He also added, “NATO's AI strategy will cover areas including data analysis, imagery, cyber defense.” 

These guidelines / principles that NATO is trying to instill globally can be considered as an act to protect human dignity and also to keep data safe. Technology has not reached a stage where AI possesses true intelligence, but there should be principles set in place already, once we reach that technology. 

AI technology should be kept transparent to ensure security.

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