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Tomáš Kopečný, Deputy Minister of Defence, currently heads the Industrial Cooperation Division. Mr. Kopečný, as an expert on international industrial cooperation and defence market, is dedicated to strengthening the Czech defence industry, strategic partnerships in defence research and development, and continuous build-up of Czech defence industrial and technological base within the European defence framework. He holds an advanced MA degree (PhDr.) in Security Studies from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University in Prague. As an exchange student, he also attended the McGill University in Canada and did a professional internship at NATO within the team of the Special Advisor to NATO Secretary-General and the Public Diplomacy Division. His prior work experience covers various positions within the Czech Ministry of Defence, ranging from the Advisor to the First Deputy Minister on Africa to the Head of the Industrial Cooperation Division

Deputy Minister, NATO’s Science & Technology Trends 2020-2040 highlights several emerging tendencies bound to affect military operations, defence capabilities, and political decision space. Which ones would you identify as most disruptive of the status quo, and how should they be tackled?

All of the identified Emerging & Disruptive Technologies are important. However, for the upcoming decade, I perceive artificial intelligence to be the most decisive area not only in terms of military advantage but also in terms of economic competitiveness and geopolitical power.

The race to become the leader in AI development has already begun – both China and the US see AI as the decisive technology for winning the global superpower status for the upcoming decades, and their official strategies revolve around it. AI’s significance stems primarily from the fact that it serves as an enabling technology for all of the other identified trends, bringing exponential growth to their development.

In contrast to technologies such as quantum computing, AI is already in an advanced state of maturity, and we can be almost certain about the scale of the disruptions it will cause in the foreseeable future.

There are two paths a medium-power country like the Czech Republic should pursue simultaneously in order to ensure that the strategic and competitive advantage of ourselves and our allies is preserved.

Firstly, in terms of domestic policy, efforts to pursue intensive cooperation with the private sector and academia must be bolstered. After decades of separation, industrial policy needs to become an integral part of our perception of security policy and geopolitics again.
The state needs to fulfil two primary goals in relation to AI – protect and foster its development.

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