The Defense AI Observatory (DAIO) at the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg has released a new study examining the utilization of defence artificial intelligence (AI) in Sweden. The complete study titled “A Fertile Soil for AI?” can be accessed through this link [PDF]: https://defenseai.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/daio_study2314_a_fertile_soil_for_ai_alastair_finlan.pdf. The study provides valuable insights into various aspects of the Swedish military AI applications.
Sweden is emerging as a frontrunner in the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within its defense sector. The nation’s strategic approach to AI, combined with its unique geopolitical circumstances, paints a promising picture of its future defense capabilities.
Today, Sweden is exceptionally well-positioned regarding the development of AI for both civil and military applications. The nation possesses most of the essential conditions to foster AI’s growth, development, and rapid advancement. This favorable environment is attributed in part to strategic initiatives from both the government and private foundations, which have invested significantly in Sweden’s AI future.
However, the long-term success of AI in Sweden hinges on the actions taken today. While the current conditions are optimal, it necessitates proactive planning and groundwork to ensure that AI’s potential benefits for defense are fully realized in the coming years.
This proactive approach to AI comes at a pivotal moment in Sweden’s history. The nation has recently decided to significantly invest in its armed forces, given the increasing instability in Europe and the implications of the War in Ukraine. Furthermore, Sweden’s recent application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2022 marks a departure from its longstanding policy on neutrality. These developments, combined with Sweden’s status as one of the most advanced and digitally networked societies in Europe, create a conducive climate for AI to thrive.
Sweden’s research on AI in the defense sector is not a recent phenomenon. The country boasts a rich history in this domain and is home to Saab, one of the world’s leading-edge defense industries. Saab is at the forefront of incorporating AI into deployable military systems. With substantial investments in AI research across Swedish universities and the initial concept work already underway, the pace of development is set to accelerate.
The revival of the “total defense” concept in Sweden further augments the nation’s AI capabilities. This concept ensures a seamless flow of ideas and technologies from civil society to the armed forces, bolstering the nation’s defense mechanisms. Given Sweden’s vast yet sparsely populated territory, AI offers significant advantages in addressing the unique strategic challenges the country faces.
For 30+ years, I've been committed to protecting people, businesses, and the environment from the physical harm caused by cyber-kinetic threats, blending cybersecurity strategies and resilience and safety measures. Lately, my worries have grown due to the rapid, complex advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Having observed AI's progression for two decades and penned a book on its future, I see it as a unique and escalating threat, especially when applied to military systems, disinformation, or integrated into critical infrastructure like 5G networks or smart grids. More about me, and about Defence.AI.