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MoD sets out strategy to develop military AI with private sector



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


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.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives




Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background

(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers




YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops




Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock

Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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