Building a sound and solid AI strategy for national security

Artificial intelligence is a crucial capability multiplier for the defense sector. As we learned with the Finnish Defense Forces, harnessing AI’s potential requires sharp minds, agile methods, and careful consideration of ethics.

We partnered with the Finnish Defense Forces to define its strategic stance on artificial intelligence. Together we developed policies that form the guidelines for Finland’s use of artificial intelligence in defense.

Reaktor’s cross-functional team guided the country’s top national security officials through the technological, juridical, and societal possibilities and challenges of AI.

Project highlights

  • A four-month strategy process with interviews, workshops, research, and technological insights
  • Strategic guidelines for developing AI solutions in the Finnish Defense Forces
  • Model for examining the ethical questions of AI enabled defense
  • Comprehensive documentation of the findings, vision, and recommendations

AI is a force multiplier

Finding best practices for continuous development

Strategic use of data with artificial intelligence and machine learning can enable one of the greatest performance leaps of our time. Use cases of these transformative technologies in the military range from back-office functions to battlefield operations.

To maintain a credible deterrent against increasingly capable adversaries and competitors, Finland has to continuously develop its total defense’s digital performance. A credible military capability entails a technological infrastructure that supports secure storage, analysis and distribution of data, and developing and implementing artificial intelligence solutions.

The power of technology is often overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term. Instead of autonomous weapon systems and groundbreaking discoveries, AI-enabled defense today is mostly intelligent support functions. In the future, however, AI can change our defense in ways we can’t even imagine yet. 

To assess how to utilize AI to the hilt, the Finnish Defense Forces joined forces with Reaktor. Our team was a perfect blend of industry-leading expertise and academic knowledge in AI, design, and user-centricity.

“AI in the military is a multilayered opportunity that reaches from the back-office to the battlefield. When it comes to the societal, legislative, and ethical aspects of AI, the defense forces need to evolve in the same rhythm as the rest of the nation. Due to Finland’s high level of digitization, we are in the frontline of asking these crucial questions.”

Jarkko Karsikas, CDO, The Finnish Defense Forces

Deliberating the ethics of AI

Guidance that holds under scrutiny

Throughout the conversations about AI’s threats and possibilities, the guidelines of ethics, transparency, and ethics policy were taken seriously.

Contrary to common beliefs, most of the AI applications used and developed today hold up under intense scrutiny. We developed a model that breaks down the ethics of different AI use cases and forms a sturdy base for the policy guidelines. 

According to the model, most AI applications in defense require only the same kind of legal and ethical consideration on anti-discrimination and transparency of decision making, as any administrative software that is handling sensitive data. Then there’s the gray area with more complex applications in need of thorough ethical and legal review and discussion. The last group is the most precarious one: Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), and EU is calling for an international ban them.

Learn continuously, implement gradually

Don’t wait around for the big data

Organizations looking to utilize AI tend to wait for the one huge data or the one algorithm to rule them all. This approach can be paralyzing. Instead of looking for big data, you only need data that is big enough. Starting with smaller projects and gradually implementing AI is the key, as well as enabling flexible use of data. You have to keep on moving, no matter the pace.

While we can’t predict the future, we must develop capabilities to prepare for change and innovations. Thus, a majority of our strategy work focused on agile development practices and dynamic learning and procurement. We developed methods for both fostering internal capabilities and collaboration with external partners. When it’s time to move on the double, the Finnish Defense Forces are ready.

“Reaktor’s holistic perspective complemented our subject matter expertise, tying the conversation to a wider context. The team stimulated and crystallized our thinking and helped adopt a mindset of agile, continuous development.”

Jarkko Karsikas, CDO, The Finnish Defense Forces

Our contributions

  • Workshop facilitation
  • Strategic, academic, and technological insights
  • Defining strategic policies based on the workshops & research
  • A 50-page in-depth report of the conclusions
  • A concise policy statement for public distribution
  • Training material for an introduction to artificial intelligence and related key questions


Let's secure your future.

Leo Heng

Chief Strategist & Design Director

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Juha-Matti Liukkonen

Director, Space and New Technologies

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