Foreword from the Deputy Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff

We live in an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled world. When we unlock our smartphones using facial recognition, search the internet, accept suggestions provided by autocorrect, or interact with a chatbot or virtual assistant, we are engaging with AI. These technologies are now so ubiquitous that we forget they are AI—and that none of them existed a mere twenty-five years ago.

Just as it has rapidly transformed the activities of our daily lives, AI is also transforming the defence environment. It has enabled new operational and corporate capabilities to help us continue to meet our obligations to protect and defend Canada and Canadians, but also new risks against which we must protect them. Furthermore, AI is not a standalone technology, but part of a broader and even more transformative technological revolution brought about by the convergence of data and digital with AI. 

The DND/CAF Artificial Intelligence Strategy (AI Strategy) commits the Defence Team to becoming AI enabled by 2030, in line with our goals for an overall digital transformation by that date. This is an ambitious objective, but one that we must meet. We stand at a technological inflection point. Our allies are moving ahead rapidly in their commitments to AI and its adoption. We must move now to ensure that we can continue to share a common operating picture with them, sensing, deciding, and acting at a pace enabled by AI, so that we do not lose our credibility and relevance as a fighting force.

The technology will not wait for us to act. With every day that passes, it is becoming more accessible to our competitors and potential adversaries at a lower cost, and the convergence of quantum and AI is rapidly approaching. Falling behind now in our adoption of AI will risk the loss of our operational advantage.

Becoming AI-enabled also offers us the opportunity to meet the call for modernization and reconstitution: to become better stewards of the resources with which Canadians have entrusted us, while delivering improved results. It offers the opportunity to meet the expectation of our personnel that they will work and fight in the same digital, AI-enabled world in which they live. At the same time, we must ensure that our use of AI lives up to what Canadians and our people expect of us. We must ensure that it meets their expectations for safe, responsible, and ethical implementation while upholding an inclusive and diverse culture.

The AI Strategy provides a vision and direction for the development and integration of AI and automated decision systems in the Defence Team. The operational capabilities and requirements of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) in the modern security environment are at the heart of this approach, guiding the prioritization and need for this Strategy. The Strategy conveys our intent and direction to our people, to our partners in the Government of Canada, academia, and industry, and to our allies.

Today, we face a world more insecure and dangerous than at any time since the end of the Cold War. We must expect that demand on the Canadian Armed Forces both domestically and internationally will only increase. We must modernize rapidly in order to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The imperative is clear, and the urgency is real—but we are equal to it. We must move—and move now—to become an AI-enabled organization.

 General Wayne Eyre

Chief of the Defence Staff

Canadian Armed Forces

Bill Matthews

Deputy Minister

Department of National Defence

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