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How NATO wants to use artificial intelligence in decision making

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) believes in incorporating artificial intelligence in its decision-making process, a senior official told CNBC.

The 68 year-old military alliance is committed to exploring technological advancements, with effective mobilization of data and human capital among its key areas of focus, said General Denis Mercier, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue over the weekend, an annual gathering of defense ministers, Mercier said NATO "needs to develop a better big data approach, cloud-like architectures and make an extensive use of AI."

Members of the British Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, left, plan their movements against the enemy while a member of the Estonian Scouts Battalion looks on in a forest during the NATO "Spring Storm" military exercises.
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Members of the British Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, left, plan their movements against the enemy while a member of the Estonian Scouts Battalion looks on in a forest during the NATO "Spring Storm" military exercises.

AI could be used within anti-access area denial systems, he said, referring to global defense structures designed to destroy or prevent enemy forces from entering land, sea or air spaces.

"The key issue is the distribution of data — how we can, through that, empower subordinate levels of command, when it's necessary, to take action."

"That's not what we do today but this is really what we need to be available to do in the future."

A good way of dealing with these integrated and highly complex systems is looking at the technological tools available that can help NATO "build architectures to make these systems work together."

The prospect of AI delivering strategic verdicts on key NATO issues was "the next step," he stated.

President Donald Trump has criticized NATO members for failing to contribute more to defense spending but Mercier said the issue wasn't a contentious one.

Sharing the burden of defending the North Atlantic community is a defining concept of NATO, Mercier stated. "This is not new," he said pointing to the Washington Treaty — the organization's founding agreement — as an example.

Article 3 of the Treaty stipulates members must maintain and develop an individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. Thus, the responsibilities lie with the nations, Mercier said.