China’s dominance of artificial intelligence worries the Pentagon and other US officials

The first software officer in the Pentagon quit suddenly Earlier this month and now We know exactly why: Nicholas Chailan, a former civil society official in the United States Air Force and Space Forces, told the Financial Times that the United States “doesn’t have a competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years” when it comes to cyber warfare and artificial intelligence.

Chailan, a 37-year-old tech entrepreneur, added that cyber defenses in many government agencies are at the “kindergarten” level, and that companies like Google have been doing the United States a disservice by not working with the military more on intelligence. AI, given that Chinese companies were making a “massive investment” in AI without getting all involved in the ethics of it. And while quitting your job because America has already lost the AI ​​race is a bit exciting, Chailan isn’t the only one worried about China’s dominance in the field.

We can all agree that no one wants China to invent a real version of Skynet, the all-encompassing artificial intelligence dominate the planet In the finisher Films. But we don’t want the United States to do that either. But what does the finish line look like in this AI race? And does the United States really want to win at all costs?

For years, critics have been Comparing the artificial intelligence race to the space race And warn the United States of losing it. It’s a useful analogy, as it helps Americans place current conflicts with countries like China and Russia in the familiar context of the Cold War. Many argued that we found ourselves In the second cold war And that the country that wins the AI ​​race will take the throne as the dominant superpower. But the AI ​​revolution is not just about fighting wars or geopolitical hegemony. What we race to build will transform nearly every aspect of our lives, from how business is run to how information is processed to how we get around.

It is therefore imperative that the United States consider fast charging for a future filled with autonomous cars, unlimited data collection, and full-time monitoring. These are the applications that will enable the next generation of artificial intelligence, and if a small group of powerful tech companies and/or the US military push to innovate without Putting the appropriate guard rails in placeThis world-changing technology could lead to some bleak, unintended consequences. President Biden He called on the United States and Europe to work together On responsibly developing new technology in a February speech at the Munich Security Conference.

“We must craft the rules that will govern the progress of technology and the rules of conduct in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology so that they are used to lift people up, not be used to constrain them,” Biden said. We must stand up for the democratic values ​​that make it possible for us to achieve any of this, and fend off those who monopolize and normalize oppression.

You can also look to present-day China to see what the near future of a more AI-focused society might look like. As Kai-fu Lee argues in his book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, China has been more daring in implementing AI breakthroughs, especially in Monitoring and data collection applicationsThis is thanks in part to government support and a lack of oversight that has allowed some tech companies there to leapfrog the competition and dominate entire industries. WeChat and its parent company, Tencent, are excellent examples of this. Privacy on WeChat Doesn’t seem like a priority, but the huge amounts of data an app can collect is certainly useful for training AI.

“Imagine, if you will, that Facebook has acquired a Visa and a Mastercard and merged everything into functionality, as well as invested money in Amazon, Uber, OpenTable, etc., and created an ecosystem by simply logging into Facebook, these things are a click away and from Then you can pay for it with another click, “Li for New York magazine. “This is the kind of convenience that WeChat has brought, and its real value is the huge data set of all the user data that goes through it.”

This is the kind of win-at-all-cost approach that appears to give China a place in the AI ​​race. China too Looks like he’s playing catch-up When it comes to setting standards for the ethics of algorithms. Just last week, country It issued its first ever guidance on the ethics of artificial intelligence. The United States has always known about these algorithms It can be racist or sexistThe Pentagon has adopted its own guidelines on ethical artificial intelligence Almost two years ago. And as we learned recently, the artificial intelligence that companies like Facebook and YouTube use to deliver content It can also be used to radicalize people undermining democracy. That’s why – especially in the wake of the Facebook whistleblower scandal that exposed internal research that showed its products It was harmful to some users, including teenage girls Recently, US lawmakers seem more interested in talking about it How to organize algorithms Than how to beat China in the artificial intelligence race.

The two things are not mutually exclusive, by the way. Chailan, the former head of military programs, has certainly earned his say on how quickly the United States is developing its own cyber defenses and artificially intelligent computers. Now that he has passed on his knowledge of how the Pentagon works to the private sector, he will likely make good money addressing his concerns. For the rest of us, the rise of AI shouldn’t seem like a race against China. It’s like a high stakes poker game.

This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. Register here So you don’t miss the next!

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