Tech and AI’s Impact on the Defence & Security Sector

Emerging technologies are creating new opportunities and risks for defence and security actors. Industry players are having to invest heavily in research and development, acquire and integrate new systems, and cope with the associated ethical and legal implications, particularly around the use of AI. Historically, the defence industry was in the vanguard of technological development, which then trickled down to civilian applications. However, we are now increasingly seeing this technological proliferation happen in reverse, with rapid advances in technology from the civil world being adopted in the defence industry. This civil to military transfer brings about some issues.

Big technology-led companies and new startups entering the sector may have limited prior experience of defence contracting, meaning they will either need to adapt to how the sector traditionally operates or disrupt it. They also need to understand the regulatory and national security environment they are now operating in. We are seeing these new entrants to the defence sector seeking to understand the risks involved in selling their technology-led products and services for military end use, rather than the public consumer market. Some of the best examples of this are in the space sector. This is expected to create increased competition in 2024 from new entrants and non-traditional players in the defence market, and with an expanded market in this sensitive sector, eyes will be on leaders, governments and regulators alike to ensure that defence at its core remains focused on response, defence and protection.

The rapid advances in AI, and generative AI in particular, over the past year is one of the stand-out technological developments of the twenty-first century. AI is likely to be pivotal in the defence sector, through both its use in defensive applications and the need to counter its use by bad actors (who may be able to put it to nefarious uses in ways and on a scale not possible with previous technologies). One key concern for 2024 is that we have entered into the biggest global election year on record, with the United Kingdom, United States and India – three of the world’s largest democracies – all set to hold elections. These nations are part of up to 50 countries holding elections in 2024, with over two billion people being in a position to vote. This will all be taking place for the first time with powerful generative AI being widely accessible through applications like ChatGPT and Midjourney. The risk of AI-driven misinformation and the use of deepfakes distorting the democratic process is therefore a significant concern in all states heading to the polls in 2024.

Our international defence and security team have worked with Lexology on the publication of Lexology Panoramic: Defence & Security Procurement. The team has written the global overview, the France, Germany, Italy, Poland, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary and Australia chapters and Mark Leach and Will Bryson are contributing editors for the publication. All content on the hub is reproduced with permission from Law Business Research Ltd and was first published in Lexology Panoramic. For further information please visit: https://www.lexology.com/panoramic

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