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Weaponizing Innovation? Mapping Artificial Intelligence-enabled Security and Defence in the EU

Publisher: EUNPDC
EUNPDC, Stockholm:
July, 2023

Emerging and disruptive technologies and their security and defence uses have become central to European Union (EU) initiatives. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are no exception. As the focus of great power rivalry and increasing weaponization, AI technologies present both risks and opportunities in terms of transforming civil–military relations, due to their dual-use characteristics, and their increasing deployment in the cyber-physical domain. This paper explores recent EU-led efforts, identifying common programmes and projects, and considering the European technological sovereignty discourse, recent strategic initiatives and the key stakeholders involved. In the absence of an EU strategic vision that clearly articulates a position on this emerging technological domain and its responsible military research, development and fielding, such efforts risk becoming scattered pieces of an absent overarching intellectual puzzle. The paper also provides a cautionary tale regarding the mainstreaming of AI-driven technological solutions into security and defence across the EU, noting that this legitimizes a specific geopolitical and militaristic imaginary of innovation that might not be compatible with the EU’s promotion of responsible, trustworthy and human-centric visions of such systems.


I. Introduction

II. Research and development trends in AI-enabled defence

III. Unmanned swarm systems and the Pilot Project on Defence Research

IV. AI-enabled defence projects under the Preparatory Action on Defence Research

V. Defence technologies supported by AI in the European Defence Industrial Development Programme

VI. The European Defence Fund and AI defence technologies

VII. AI initiatives for defence spearheaded by the EDA

VIII. Recommendations

IX. Conclusions


Dr Raluca Csernatoni (Romania/Hungary) is a Research Fellow at Carnegie Europe, where she specializes in European defence with a focus on emerging and disruptive technologies.