The University of Southampton

AI expert calls for e-defence for the UK

Published: 4 March 2005

The need for the UK military to develop e-defence so that it can compete with the rest of the world will be highlighted by Professor Nigel Shadbolt next week.

His call will be made when he delivers the British Computer Society (BCS)/Royal Signals Institution (RSI) annual lecture 2005 on Web Intelligence at the National Army Museum, London on Wednesday 9 March. Professor Shadbolt, who is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, will focus on how Artificial Intelligence is being woven into the World Wide Web and he will review how these developments are likely to shape future military capabilities.

He will claim that the UK military is lagging behind what many of the rest of us routinely experience in terms of software and IT capabilities. Lengthy procurement processes means that from an IT perspective the equipment and software being used is often out-of-date. This is particularly acute in the area of web services.

He commented: ‘The military will have few options but to take advantage of the huge investment that the commercial and research sectors have made in web service solutions and architectures.’

Professor Shadbolt will demonstrate how the developing Semantic Web could provide web services for the military which might change how it operates.

For example, through developing information sets about locations, military units could access instant information about the geology, geography, customs and cultural and religious structures of a location before entering. Much of this content exists in various web accessible sources. Deployed military personnel often face problems when dealing with foreign languages. Web services are under development to support high quality speech and text translation. Increasingly services for diagnosis, image recognition, planning and scheduling can be delivered on the web.

Professor Shadbolt commented: ‘The UK military is starting to use this technology and indeed the concept of network enabled capability is accepted, but it lags well behind the US. The adage that information is power has always applied in military as well as business contexts. At the moment, it is hard for the military to change fast, but it needs to if it is to attain a position of information superiority.’

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