New focus on emerging and disruptive technologies helps prepare NATO for the future

  • 03 Mar. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 03 Mar. 2021 18:04

New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, autonomous and quantum technologies are changing the world, and the way NATO operates. Recognizing the risks and opportunities that new technologies bring to the Alliance, Defence Ministers endorsed NATO’s Coherent Implementation Strategy on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies in February 2021.

The Strategy sets out ways in which the Alliance will foster and protect the development of new technologies to maintain the Alliance’s technological edge, underpinned by robust principles of responsible use. NATO will work with partners, academia and the private sector – including start-ups – to develop and adopt new technologies more quickly, and strengthen the Allied industrial base. As part of the NATO 2030 agenda, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has also proposed a NATO defence innovation initiative to promote better transatlantic cooperation on critical technologies. 

To support these strategic efforts the Secretary General announced in July 2020 the creation of an Advisory Group on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies to solicit outside views from specialists and practitioners. The group, composed of 12 experts from academia and industry, advises NATO on its efforts to drive the adoption of new technologies. In their first annual report, the experts offered concrete short-and long term recommendations on how NATO’s approach to Emerging and Disruptive Technologies should look like. The group provided advice on how NATO might best finance its innovation efforts, build an operational network of Innovation Centres, promote successful innovation business and operating models, and increase the level of technical literacy across NATO. The experts agreed that NATO is exceptionally well-placed to be a global driver for a values-based innovation agenda. Commenting on the report, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, David Van Weel, said “To maintain our technological edge, the Alliance needs to win the technological adoption race. We are ready to take ambitious steps to adapt our business and operating models to cooperate closely with the outstanding Allied academia, start-ups and the wider private sector.

The Advisory Group’s Annual Report can be found here.