• AI,
  • arms industry,
  • Militarisation

The worrying use of artificial intelligence (AI) in EU militarisation has been revealed in a study that looks into how AI and autonomous armament are laying the ground for future conflicts that will threaten peace in Europe and beyond.

Commissioned by The Left in the European Parliament, ‘Artificial Intelligence in European Defence: Autonomous Armament?’ takes a comprehensive look into the use of AI in EU defence planning. It also examines the threats and impact posed by new AI applications, and how they could eventually render international law meaningless.

The study – available in both English and German – will be launched at an online event on Friday 15 January at 11h00 CET. Full details can be found here.

Authored by the political scientist Christoph Marischka from The Information Centre on Militarisation, (IMI e.V.), the research reveals in detail what role AI has played in various EU armament programmes (EDIDP, EDF and PESCO), and the political consequences of the bloc’s militarisation. In particular, the report looks at how the use of AI has deepened significantly since the turn of the century.

Amongst the themes explored:

– How the arms industry and venture capitalists have lobbied the EU Commission, European Space Agency, and member state governments;

– The inclusion of armament projects as part of member states’ industrial policy (France & Germany), and the harmonisation of European armed forces through the digitalised Combat Cloud;

– Why cyber and information warfare are front-and-centre of the EU’s long-term military strategy;

– Space warfare and the dual use of European satellites in reconnaissance, surveillance and communication in extra-terrestrial territories far beyond the EU. 

Commenting on the launch, Özlem Alev Demirel (Die Linke, Germany) said:

“The use of autonomous systems and the ramping up of militarisation have greatly increased the potential for war.”

“The escalation in armament doesn’t just mean swarms of drones and killer robots, but it threatens to undo the difference between war and peace, civilians and combatants. The risk of a gradual loss of control is real. International law then becomes meaningless,” said Demirel.

“Instead of getting involved in this crazy arms race, the EU should be campaigning for the regulation or even a complete ban of autonomous weapon systems and cyberwar. There are many civil society campaigns against the use of AI for military purposes such as ‘Cyberpeace’ and ‘Stop Killer Robots’, which receive zero funding from the EU – unlike military projects that receive millions.”

“The use of AI in weaponry not only threatens peace but will also usher in new forms of surveillance and propaganda – making conflicts more likely,” she concluded.

The author Christoph Marischka added:

“What concerns me is that a lot has already been done in the field of digitisation and artificial intelligence in the military, both in Germany and in the EU. Also, the EU’s armament policy means unmanned and autonomous systems will be used in large numbers and often in swarms on land, air, sea, space and cyber in the future.”

“By actively promoting this development, this will change the nature of war and our daily lives, thus increasingly blurring the distinction between the conflict and peace,” he said.


You can download the study here in English and German. 


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