ABCD 2019

Disruptive Technologies for Strategic Superiority:

Can the West Win the Defence Technology Race?


*Agenda, working version, subject to change


Tuesday 29 October

Welcoming dinner


Wednesday 30 October

Opening & Keynote Speeches


Session One: The State of Technology

What are the broad technological trends shaping states and their societies, and influencing the conduct of international relations? What is the interplay of these trends and geopolitical shifts in the global order? How are they disrupting the established paradigms of war and warfare? How will they affect national power and military alliances, especially NATO—its effectiveness, political cohesion, decision-making, interoperability and burden sharing? Is the West’s technological edge in military affairs eroding? What are the implications for deterrence in general and NATO’s deterrence function in particular?


Session Two: The Case of Autonomy

What challenges to states, societies and the armed forces arise from progress in AI technologies, robotics and machine autonomy? What are the risks and opportunities for the defence sector, and how can those risks best be managed and the opportunities exploited? What are the political, societal, strategic and doctrinal implications of autonomous weapons systems? Who is ahead and who is falling behind in embracing AI- and autonomy-driven transformation in military capabilities, and why? What are NATO’s and EU’s partners and opponents doing in this field? How can small NATO Allies and EU Member States leverage these technologies in their security and defence policies and strategies?


Session Three: The Place of Europe

Can Europe become a hot-bed of technological innovation in defence? What can be the main drivers of its ambition as a technological power? What are the main obstacles and constraints, and how can they be mitigated or removed? How can the societal and political concerns in Europe over exploitation of AI, machine learning and autonomous technologies for military purposes be assuaged?  Will the new initiatives and mechanisms in European defence cooperation help in acquiring a leading edge in key disruptive technologies? What more has to be done to future-proof Europe’s defence industrial and technological base, and its military capabilities? Do countries such as the Baltic states have a role to play in this?


Closing Session

  • Concluding remarks by the organisers