The Daily Telegraph

Wizards of technology recruited to lead Porton Down’s pivot to the AI battlefiel­d

- By Danielle Sheridan DEFENCE CORRESPOND­ENT

A DRIVE to develop AI for the battlefiel­d has begun as Porton Down begins its recruitmen­t of hundreds of topsecret scientists.

While the high-security site in the middle of the Wiltshire countrysid­e is renowned for being the oldest chemical warfare research centre in the world, where its scientists have handled some of the most dangerous substances in existence, there will now be a pivot towards working with artificial intelligen­ce and the cyber domain.

Having worked with the plague, Ebola, anthrax, and the nerve agent Novichok, scientists from the Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) will be turning their attention to other methods to deal with potential threats.

As part of the initiative Dstl will look to recruit people for 300 new jobs across Porton Down and other sites around the country, including a new technology hub in Newcastle, which launched in April this year.

A Government source told The Daily Telegraph: “The next four years are absolutely critical for this country if we’re going to secure our tech advantage over the big threat countries, China, Russia, Iran and others.

“Science and new technologi­es are going to be under the forefront of that fight. Dstl is really bolstering its ability to deliver on this in the Government.

“It is coming out of the shadows to recruit the best people.”

As part of the recruitmen­t process coders and data analysts will be sought, so that they can focus on how AI can be used to the best of its ability in the field. Engineers who will work with kit on the ground such as lasers and missiles will also be recruited.

Dstl said it was looking for people who have technical expertise, particular­ly those who have previously worked in the science and technology field who might never have considered working in defence and security before.

Last month General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of Strategic Command, told The Telegraph that the military would be focusing on recruiting gamers as opposed to traditiona­l soldiers in order to fight the wars of tomorrow.

On Monday Nato leaders pledged to provide a collective response to attacks in space as part of its ability to invoke Article 5 which states an attack on one is an attack on all.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute defence and security think tank, Lindy Cameron, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, said it was crucial the UK continues to build its cyber resilience to stop attacks from reaching their targets.

‘The next four years are critical if we’re going to secure our tech advantage over the big threat countries’

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