NATO Decision-Making in the Age of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

Digital revolution has substantially transformed the world we live in, providing great opportunities but also making societies more vulnerable. Technology makes external interferences cheaper, faster and all-encompassing: citizens can potentially become direct targets of information warfare, all members of a society can be part of conflicts one way or another. From advanced weaponry to command and control, most security-related domains are undergoing deep transformations as data availability and transmission increase exponentially. In this context, three broad, interconnected aspects are explored through this publication with a view to NATO future evolution. First, the organizational challenges posed by Big Data for the Alliance, which has to adapt in order to fully exploit their potentialities but also mitigate the risks they entail. Second, the hybrid threats to Allies’ decision-making through the cyberspace, whereby for instance artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data enable more effective information warfare by hostile actors. Third, the adoption of AI in the defence domain is crucial, from equipment to procedures, and NATO can play a positive role in this regard also concerning the dialogue with private companies.

This publication is the result of the seventh academic conference entitled “NATO Decision-making: promises and perils of the Big Data age”, organised on 17 November 2020 by the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), the University of Bologna and Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).

Brussels, NATO, March 2021, 100 p.
Publication date: 

Executive Summary, p. 7-9
Technological Changes and a Transformed International Security Environment / Sonia Lucarelli, Alessandro Marrone and Francesco N. Moro, p. 10-13
Working Group I
Opportunities and Challenges in the Management and Governance of Big Data / George Christou, p. 16-27
Digitalization in Mission Command and Control: Fragmenting Coordination in Military Operations / Paolo Spagnoletti & Andrea Salvi, p. 28-37
Working Group 1 Report - Data and Decision-Making: Changes, Risks and Opportunities / Stefano Costalli, p. 38-41
Working Group II
Hybrid Threats to Allied Decision-Making / Hanna Smith, p. 44-56
Hybrid Threats to Allied Decision-Making: Merging Whack-a-Troll Tactics with Whole-of-Society Defense Concepts / Franz-Stefan Gady, p. 57-66
Working Group 2 Report - Hybrid Threats to Allied Decision-Making / Andrea Locatelli, p. 67-71
Working Group III
NATO and Artificial Intelligence: the Role of Public-Private Sector Collaboration / Sophie-Charlotte Fischer, p. 74-83
The NATO Alliance and the Challenges of Artificial Intelligence Adoption / Edward Hunter Christie, p. 84-93
Working Group 3 Report - NATO, Big Data and Automation: Decisions And Consensus / Andrea Gilli, p. 94-97
Acronym list, p. 98-100

Research area