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MoD sets out strategy to develop military AI with private sector

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MoD sets out strategy to develop military AI with private sector

The UK Ministry of Defence has outlined its intention to work closely with the private sector to develop and deploy a range of artificial intelligence-powered technologies, committing to ‘lawful and ethical AI use’

Sebastian  Klovig Skelton

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Published: 17 Jun 2022 9: 00

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unveiled its Defence artificial intelligence strategy outlining how the UK will work closely with the private sector to prioritise research, development and experimentation in artificial intelligence (AI) to “revolutionise our Armed Forces capabilities.”

Published on 15 June 2022 during London Tech Week’s AI Summit, the strategy aims to make the MoD the “most effective, efficient, trusted and influential Defence organisation for our size” when it comes to AI.

The strategy’s four main objectives are: to transform the MoD into an AI-ready organisation; to adopt and exploit AI at pace and scale for defence advantage; to strengthen the UK’s defence and security AI ecosystem; and to shape global AI developments to promote security, stability and democratic values.

A policy document on the Ambitious, safe and responsible use of AI, developed in partnership with the government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI), was published alongside the strategy, which sets out five principles to promote the ethical development and deployment of AI by the military.  

These principles include human-centricity, responsibility, understanding, bias and harm mitigation, and reliability.

The MoD previously published a data strategy for defence on 27 September 2021, which set out how the organisation will ensure data is treated as a “strategic asset, second only to people”, as well as how it will enable that to happen at pace and scale.

“We intend to exploit AI fully to revolutionise all aspects of MoD business, from enhanced precision-guided munitions and multi-domain Command and Control to machine speed intelligence analysis, logistics and resource management,” said Laurence Lee, second permanent secretary of the MoD, in a blog published ahead of the AI Summit, adding that the UK government intends to work closely with the private sector to secure investment and spur innovation.

“For MoD to retain our technological edge over potential adversaries, we must partner with industry and increase the pace at which AI solutions can be adopted and deployed throughout defence.

“To make these partnerships a reality, MoD will establish a new Defence and National Security AI network, clearly communicating our requirements, intent, and expectations and enabling engagement at all levels. We will establish an industry engagement team in the Defence AI Center [DAIC] to enable better defence understanding and response to the AI sector. It will also promote the best and brightest talent and exchange of expertise between defence and industry.”

According to the strategy, overall strategic coherence will be managed by the Defence AI and Autonomy Unit (DAU) and the DAIC, which will set policy frameworks and act as the focal point for AI research and development (R&D).

It added that the MoD will also create a head of AI profession role that sits within the DAIC and has responsibilities for developing a skills framework, as well as recruitment and retention offers.

The DAIC will also lead on delivering an engagement and interchange function to “encourage seamless interchange between MoD, academia and the tech sector.”

It added that, through secondments and placements, the MoD will being in “talented AI leaders from the private sector with a remit to conduct high-risk innovation and drive cultural change; create opportunities for external experts to support policy-making; and develop schemes for Military of Defence leaders to gain tech sector experience”.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace, writing in the foreword of the strategy, claimed that AI technologies were essential to defence modernisation, and further outlined various concepts the MoD will be exploring through its R&D efforts and engagement with industry.

“Imagine a soldier on the front line, trained in highly developed synthetic environments, guided by portable command and control devices analysing and recommending different courses of action, fed by database capturing and processing the latest information from hundreds of small drones capturing thousands of hours of footage,” he said.

“Imagine autonomous resupply systems and combat vehicles, delivering supplies and effects more efficiently without putting our people in danger. Imagine the latest directed energy weapons using lightning-fast target detection algorithms to protect our ships, and the digital backbone which supports all this using AI to identify and defend against cyber threats.”

Wallace added that he also recognised the “profound issues” raised by a military organisation’s use of AI: “We take these very seriously – but think for a moment about the number of AI-enabled devices you have at home and ask yourself whether we shouldn’t make use of the same technology to defend ourselves and our values.

“We must be ambitious in our pursuit of strategic and operational advantage through AI, while upholding the standards, values and norms of the society we serve, and demonstrating trustworthiness.”

Lethal autonomous weapons systems

Regarding the use of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), the strategy claimed the UK was “deeply committed to multilateralism” and will therefore continue to engage with the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

“The CCW’s discussions will remain central to our efforts to shape international norms and standards, as will our support to wider government in forums such as the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence and the Council of Europe,” it said.

“Our immediate challenge, working closely with allies and partners, is to ensure ethical issues, related questions of trust, and the associated apparatus of policies, process and doctrine do not impede our legitimate, responsible and ethical development of AI, as well as our efforts at collaboration and interoperability.”

This was the only explicit mention of LAWS in the entire 72-page strategy document.

During a Lords debate in November 2021, MoD minister Annabel Goldie refused to rule out the use of LAWS, but said the UK would not deploy such systems without human oversight.

Asked about the government’s stance on CCW discussions at the time, Goldie added there was no consensus on regulation of LAWS: “The UK and our partners are unconvinced by the calls for a further binding instrument. International humanitarian law provides a robust principle-based framework for the regulation of weapons deployment and use.”

Responding, the Liberal Democrats digital spokesperson Timothy Clement-Jones said this stance put the UK “at odds with nearly 70 countries and thousands of scientists in its unwillingness to rule out lethal autonomous weapons”.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a global civil society coalition of more than 180 organisations, has been calling for legally binding instruments to prohibit or restrict LAWS since its launch in 2013, and argues that the use of force should remain fully in human control.

“Killer robots change the relationship between people and technology by handing over life and death decision-making to machines. They challenge human control over the use of force, and where they target people, they dehumanise us – reducing us to data points,” it said on its website.

“But technologies are designed and created by people. We have a responsibility to establish boundaries between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. We have the capacity to do this, to protect our humanity and ensure that the society we live in, that we continue to build, is one in which human life is valued – not quantified.”

Nato AI strategy

In October 2021 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) published its own AI strategy, which outlined how the military alliance, which the UK is a founding member of, will approach the development and deployment of AI technologies.

Speaking during the AI Summit on 16 June 2021 about the organisation’s data-driven transformation, Nato’s head of data and AI policy Nikos Loutas said the four main objectives of the strategy were to promote the responsible use of AI; accelerate and mainstream and its use; to protect and monitor the use of AI, as well as Nato’s ability to innovate; and to identify and safeguard against the use of malicious AI by both state and non-state actors.

“What we also see is that artificial intelligence and data are also are going to provide the baseline for a number of other emerging technologies within the alliance, including autonomy, quantum computing, biotech, you name it – so there’s also an element of building the foundations that others are going to work on,” said Loutas.

He added that Nato has already identified a range of use cases at different levels of maturity, and is actively working with “industry, allies and partner nations” to develop those further.

“Some are purely experimentation, some are about capability development, everything is there, but what is important is that all those use cases address the specific needs and specific operational priorities of the alliance,” he said.





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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance
Four people in a meeting room video conferencing with four remote participants.



(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.

The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence. 

However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.

Teams’ howling

Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.

Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting. 

If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.

Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.

The news follows a number of recent updates largely aimed around improving the audio quality on Microsoft Teams calls using AI and machine learning.

The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.

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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed
Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods



Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.

Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:

Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).

But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.

1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?

Kalypso hands Hespera the wizard's staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

New movie, new villains. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.

Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.

So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.

2. Mythological monsters

A dragon prepares to breathe fire at one of Shazam's fellow heroes in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam isn’t the only person taking flight in Fury of the Gods. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.

Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.

But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.

3. You can’t get the staff these days

Hespera uses the wizard's staff as Kalypso looks on in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“So I just point it and then what?” (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.

In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.

The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players. 

Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.

4. Prison break

Djimon Hounsou's wizard blows som magic dust out of a prison window in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Time to break out, Mr. Wizard. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.

We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.

Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.

5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?

Shazam flies past some rotating buildings in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Where have we seen this kind of aesthetic before? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you? 

Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.

Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.

6. Light the way

Shazam prepares to fight Kalypso and her dragon in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A yellow bolt out of the blue. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.

Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.

Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out where we placed 2019’s Shazam! in our DC movies ranked article. Additionally, read up on the best superhero films of all-time or check out how to watch the Batman movies in order.

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As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

Chrome logo on a phone with a lock image over it

Image: Deepanker Verma / Pexels


Author: Alaina Yee
, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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