NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană opened the “Defence Disrupted 2022” conference this Thursday (26 May) by stressing the importance of preserving NATO’s technological lead and remaining at the forefront of defense innovation. In a video address to participants gathered in London, he reflected on how innovation and technology have always been at the heart of NATO’s mission to prevent war.
The Deputy Secretary General warned that today the technological advance of the West is being “challenged by countries that do not share our values, such as Russia and China”. He spoke about Russia’s investments in hypersonic missiles, cyber weapons and disinformation capabilities, and China’s efforts to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by the end of this decade. He noted, however, that free and open societies possess a unique advantage, namely that “our most creative and innovative minds are given the opportunity to express themselves freely, to question things and to think in radically news, without fear of reprisals”.
Underlining NATO’s essential role as a platform for cooperation in technology and innovation, Mr. Geoană noted that interoperability was key to ensuring credible collective defence. “Two ships can sail side by side, but if their systems can’t communicate, if those ships can’t operate together as part of a larger whole, they might as well be in two different oceans.” He welcomed the fact that the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) launched by NATO would “identify and develop the next generation of new technologies”, through collaboration with dozens of sites in Europe and North America. DIANA, along with a new multinational NATO innovation fund for startups developing cutting-edge dual-use technologies, is expected to be fully operational in 2023.
The Deputy Secretary General concluded by stating: “it is essential that the open and democratic countries of the world work together to ensure that our values remain at the heart of our technological future”, adding that “to help preserve our security and build a better world and safer for future generations is everyone’s business”.