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Annual Conference closes with call for joint action

Brussels - 29 November, 2018

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq this afternoon closed the Agency’s 2018 Annual Conference on unmanned and autonomous systems in defence. Autonomous applications supported by Artificial Intelligence are already crucial capabilities whose importance for defence will further grow in the future but the challenges laying ahead are considerable, Mr Domecq said, reflecting a general assessment expressed throughout the conference.

Main takeaways

Mr Domecq singled out five key words which, in his view, will matter for Europe's future in relation to unmanned and autonomous systems:

  • Action: Europe must catch up with the main global players dominating in this field, especially the US and China which invest much more in Artificial Intelligence and autonomous systems which are “game changers”, also in warfare. What Europe needs is a “Sputnik moment”“We cannot afford to only talk about it, we have to do it”.
  • Together: Cooperation is the only way for Europe to catch up: “We can only succeed if we do it together, in cooperation with governments, industry, the research community, tech leaders and civil society”;
  • Speed: “Speed is of the essence” especially given that Europe is lagging behind considerably;
  • Control: “Europe must stick to its values and principles”, keep Humans always in control of the use of lethal force and avoid becoming dependent on machines or robots;    
  • Education: last but not least, “we need to get the buy-in of our citizens because we cannot provide security with tools which are rejected by the population we intend to protect”.  The benefits, challenges and opportunities of autonomous systems need to be assessed, explained and discussed in full transparency. “They cannot be simplistically reduced to ‘good’ or ‘bad’ tools”, Mr Domecq concluded.
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Participating Member States

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden