News

DSEI Connect

12 Jul 2022

Forces Focus RN- the power of open conversation in creating a shared vision

Forces Focus
Forces Focus RN- the power of open conversation in creating a shared vision
The Forces Focus is a new hybrid engagement opportunity for each Front-Line Command to meet with representatives from across the Defence and other relevant industries to discuss their requirements and develop new ways of working. It aims to drive innovation for current and future projects and crowd-source solutions for problems and roadblocks that hinder the development of key programmes and capabilities.

The first edition of Forces Focus was hosted by the Royal Navy (RN) Develop Directorate. The series consisted of three stagesForces Focus - Round Table Talk:

  • Challenge to Industry - a pre-recorded video was published during which Rear Admiral Parkin, Director of the Royal Navy Develop Directorate, outlined the challenges the RN is facing and opportunities in emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning area.
  • Live Roundtable Discussion - 40 industry representatives from mixed backgrounds academia, military, MoD etc. gathered to collaboratively work on developing a better understanding of each aspect of the challenge.
  • Online Webinar – the webinar featured a summary of the leading insights from the live workshop, special guests from the RN providing brilliant insights on the priorities for Navy Digital and an outline of the RN’s future roadmap and potential collaboration opportunities.

The event initiated a free-flowing conversation between the Royal Navy, leading academics, other MoD representatives and the industry and build relationships for future cooperation. It provided an opportunity to identify, explore and share the challenges faced by the Royal Navy. At the live event, the industry helped to identify the areas of effort and contributed to developing thinking in the maritime context. It was “the first step” on the road to working collaboratively with the industry to tackle the challenges.

The key takeaway from the conversations was that AI and ML are tools that should be available to use as part of a range of options. Alone they cannot solve problems, but the more they are used and trusted, the more they will enable the commands to tackle the complicated problems that they face.Forces Focus - Round Table Talk

The RN Digital put the data and evidence at the heart of what they do to deliver value to the deployed end-user. AI and ML are what will enable them to make smarter, faster, better decisions, use the existing resources more efficiently and reduce crewing requirements for specific tasks.  The key areas that the RN wants to work with the industry on include making AI algorithms interoperable, building a universal human-machine trust, re-utilising existing hardware and training on a high level.

During the live event, technical experts shared their insights and discussed several topics around AI and ML in-depth to help the Royal Navy establish key areas of focus. As a result, the Royal Navy has outlined a clear roadmap for future improvement areas.

One of the key recommendations from the industry was to establish feedback loops to iterate down the level of error risk as uncertainty. To enable that, the declassification processes must be improved as pulling relevant data is essential to training the algorithms which allows a higher level of confidence and utility of the systems used.

Another aspect is the ability to use synthetic training tools. This would help to improve trust in AI and ML, set a motion for cultural change and enable the decision-making process coming or supported by AI and ML products to be exploited to its fullest. It is also essential to agree on an ethical framework and understanding across all commands that keep developing alongside technology. The RN will seek to develop a dynamic pre-set threshold for the level of AI involvement that changes based on different scenarios and live data, i.e. target required, level of certainty, level of accepted risks etc.

Forces Focus - Round Table TalkTherefore, to ensure a healthy balance between human-machine cooperation, unambiguous presentation of data and decision lineage to the operator is required. The intervention gateways must be enabled for an empowered operator that has adequate knowledge and skills. Therefore, the operators must be involved in the systems and work closely with technical experts so the tools that are developed are tailored to the operators.

Additionally, this amplifies the need to train new talent with the pace of technological advances. It is especially important, as the RN is focusing on technologies that are sourced from other sectors and then adapted to the maritime environment or existing products that have been enhanced. Both require the end-user to be trained accordingly and to work closely with the industry to exploit the best solutions available.

These insights and recommendations were developed thanks to technical-focused open conversations that took place at the Forces Focus events. They enabled RN to establish a clear map of the key areas of focus for both the industry and front-line command. This could help tackle the complex challenges by developing transparent and shared thinking in the maritime context for the industry as well as building relevant relationships for the future.

Intro Text

The Forces Focus is a new hybrid engagement opportunity for each Front-Line Command to meet with representatives from across the Defence and other relevant industries to discuss their requirements and develop new ways of working. It aims to drive innovation for current and future projects and crowd-source solutions for problems and roadblocks that hinder the development of key programmes and capabilities.
Loading