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Towards augmented rather than artificial intelligence
(Hybrid conference, in Lille and online)


The return of high-intensity conflict in Europe is generating new thinking on military leadership and new technologies. Cognitive computing, Cloud and artificial intelligence all  play a part in modern-day military decision making. As the role of these technologies is set to increase, the 5th Vauban Sessions will encourage reflection and discussion on the their place in the decision-making process, their complementarity with human intelligence and how they make shape 21st century operations.

Tuesday 23rd May 2023

​Welcome address 15:00 - 15:30


Session I: What is decision making? 15:30 - 16:15


Decision-making is a sequence of distinct but interdependent steps involving different actors at different levels, according to codified procedures and using specific means. This introductory discussion will aim to define the central concept of decision making and set the basis for further discussion by briefly introducing some key questions: 

  • Does the reflection around augmented intelligence lead to a redefinition of the role of military 'leader'?

  • What changes have affected how command centres operate since the beginning of the 21st century?

  • Does augmented intelligence improve the quality of decisions making?

Session II: High intensity engagements: what lessons learnt from recent conflicts for C2 operations and ICT architectures? 16:15 - 17:45

The war in Ukraine provides an almost unique example of high-intensity confrontation in the 21st century, with the use of the most modern weapons available. Despite the lack of hindsight and the difficulty in telling fact from propaganda, it nevertheless offers food for though on the decision-making chain, C2 and ICT architectures in the field, but also their stealth and resilience, and connectivity issues due to terrain or adversary action.

  • What operational lessons on the strengths and weaknesses of electronic warfare, cyber actions and kinetic effects? 

  • What lessons on the balance between protection and mobility of command centres? 

​Networking cocktail  18:00 - 20:30

Wednesday 24th May 2023

Session III: Can new cognitive computing capabilities become an operational advantage? 9:00 - 10:30


Cognitive computing aims to simulate the human thought process in a computer model. This concept is based on data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing and seeks to mimic the way the human brain works to perform certain "human" tasks (understanding language, recognising objects, problem anticipation, solution formulation, etc.). The discussion will focus on questions such as: 

  • Is cognitive computing a reality today? Can it become one in the near future? 

  • What military needs could with cognitive computing meet?

  • What limitations and risks to the use of cognitive intelligence in the decision-making chain ?

Session IV: Cloud, artificial and human intelligence: what benefits for C2 11:00 - 12:30


The use of Cloud computing facilitates interconnections among different levels of action - from the strategic to the tactical -, enables storage and makes necessary data available for information and decision-making, but also increases computing power and distributes the burden. Several modes of operation exist (centralised, distributed, hybrid), both for the use and storage of data and for the deployment and operation of applications (e.g.: edge computing) to support decision-making. Faced with the uncertainty surrounding decision-making, human intelligence 'fills the gaps' through various mechanisms, highlighting the difference between human intelligence and so-called 'artificial' intelligence, the latter being de facto neither creative, nor intuitive, nor imaginative and relying solely on data and models. Human intelligence, however, whose capacity to grasp and process variables is limited, can be 'augmented' by digital tools. But these new capabilities can create new weaknesses that expose the Command Post to new vulnerabilities: human dependence on technology, increased energy requirements, increased thermal and radio signatures, etc. 

  • Which Cloud architectures are possible with regard to operational constraints, at strategic, operational and tactical level?

  • What are the benefits, risks and possibilities of operating in downgraded mode? 

  • What military requirements should weigh in on the trade-off between centralised and distributed Cloud? 

  • How far are the Cloud and human intelligence complementarity?

  • From the tactical to the strategic level, what concrete "augmented intelligence" applications for C2?

  • Anticipation - planning - conduct - lessons learnt: how does the digital transformation of C2 tend to "shorten" these different phases, and what are the operational benefits?

  • Short loop, long cycle: how to manage the gap between combat platforms and systems’ lifecycle and that of digital systems?

Session V: Operational information and communication systems and the need for interoperability 14:30 - 16:00


Increasingly frequent coalition operations involve many challenges: the need for appropriate technology, the need to connect to allied networks and the need to avoid costly duplications. These operations take place in an era marked by the Network Centric Warfare concept, which emphasises exploiting the capabilities of available information systems and networks in the conduct of operations. In this context, interoperability has become an imperative. NATO's orientation towards increasingly network-centric operations implies greater cooperation between Allied Nations, according to the NNEC (NATO Network-Enabled Capability) concept and its application to national doctrines. This last session will thus aim to discuss - through the example provided by NATO, its Nations and partners - operational information and communication systems and their evolution in the current context, as well as the possible roles to be delegated to "augmented" intelligence. The discussion could be guided by the following questions:

  • What "normative" effect does NATO's Federated Mission Network (FMN) have on European SIOCs?

  • What national initiatives have resulted from this standardisation process? What are the variables used as homogenisation criteria?

  • What does this standardisation process imply in terms of hardware? Software?

  • How far is the integration of 'augmented' intelligence possible in these operations ?

 Guided historical tour of The Citadel of Lille  16:30-17:30

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