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.