News: Keynote Summary: New and Disruptive Technologies from a Gender Perspective, June 7, 2022

On June 7, 2022, the NATO International Military Headquarters (IMS) held its fourth substantive discussion, focusing on the relationship between gender and new and disruptive technologies (TE/TR) and, in particular, artificial intelligence (AI). He discussed putting in place responsible use principles to build trust and strong interoperability, with a focus on the importance of building trust in data for artificial intelligence by integrating a gender dimension. Presentations were made by Mr. Ulf Ehlert, Head of Strategy and Policy, NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO), and Ms. Zoe Stanley-Lockman, Innovation, Challenges, NATO’s Emerging Security Office (ESC). .

New and breakthrough technologies based on values

Mr. Ehlert led a substantive discussion on the topics of innovation, technology and values. He said that technological fields must “evolve with society in a process of mutual adaptation, and that we all have different roles in shaping this development, the outcome of which cannot be determined in advance.” Regarding TE/TR, he noted the difference between “new technologies” and “disruptive technologies”. Emerging technologies are driven by a recent scientific discovery or new technological development that is expected to develop over the next 20 years and whose ultimate impact on defense, security and/or institutional functions is still unclear. Thus, the concept of maturity must be preserved. Disruptive technologies, on the other hand, correspond to a scientific discovery or technological evolution that is expected to have a revolutionary impact on defense, security, and/or institutional functions over the next 20 years. In this case, it’s more about effects. NATO should adopt an evolutionary policy development process based on current knowledge, but with enough flexibility so that decisions made today can be adapted or adjusted tomorrow. For more on this, see Elert’s article Why Technology Choices Should Be Based on Our Values.

Gender dimension and artificial intelligence

Gender dimension and artificial intelligence

Ms. Zoe Stanley-Lockman focused more specifically on the convergence of gender and AI. She noted that the three waves of AI have focused, respectively, on professional knowledge, statistical learning, and contextual adaptation. Moravec’s paradox shows that for AI, high-level reasoning requires very little computation, while low-level skills require more resources. Ms. Stanley-Lockman added: “The AI ​​system can easily determine which national park a person is in from an image, but it’s more difficult if there is a bird there.” AI systems do not reproduce human logic, and therefore we cannot consider explaining all the decisions made by an AI system. When it comes to gender intersectionality, one of the current issues is design bias. Bias can be mitigated by asking the following questions: what problem are we trying to solve, what value does AI create, what data can we use, who will use the AI ​​system. Ms. Stanley-Lockman provided several examples of gender stereotypes regarding the underrepresentation of images of women in online searches for generic jobs and gender issues in machine translation. These stereotypes can have negative consequences for NATO if ignored. For example, if we train AI systems on unrepresentative data, we risk unpredictable performance in real-life situations.

What is the path for NATO?

The NATO AI Strategy (2021) aims to develop responsible AI systems by design. Countries endorsed six principles for the responsible use of AI, namely legitimacy, accountability, understandability and traceability, trustworthiness, manageability, and elimination of bias. Design selection for AI should start before initial development in order to properly integrate gender. For more information, see NATO AI Strategy Brief. NATO has proven to be a force for responsible innovation and therefore appears to be strategically needed. In addition, adhering to these principles provides operational value. As de-bias is one of the six fundamental principles adopted by NATO, the Alliance intends to integrate a gender perspective into AI-enabled capability development, as well as into making AI systems more resilient to attack. As TE/TR and AI will be seen as tools to measure and accelerate military decision making, NATO will need to ensure that they do not measure biased results.

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