The US and the Global Artificial Intelligence Arms Race

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by Ulson Gunnar, Activist Post:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already widely used by tech firms worldwide for everything from search engines to social media. It is also increasingly being developed for other applications including monitoring systems and decision making. Experimental platforms are already being tested that can review medical records and images to diagnose patients. There are also autonomous AI agents being developed and tested that carry out and defend against cyberattacks.

While the US is perceived to hold a large advantage in this crucial and ever-emerging technological field, Russian and Chinese leadership have publicly recognized the importance of AI and the need to prevent any one nation from monopolizing it.

Russian media would report regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regarding the future of AI that:

Vladimir Putin spoke with students about science in an open lesson on September 1, the start of the school year in Russia. He told them that “the future belongs to artificial intelligence,” and whoever masters it first will rule the world.

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Regarding Beijing’s view on AI, Chinese media would report that:

China unveiled a national artificial intelligence (AI) development plan on Thursday, aiming to build an AI technologically world-leading domestic industry by 2030.

Released by the State Council, the plan formulates the key strategy for the development of China’s AI industry.

Russia and China’s recognition of the importance of AI in both economic and national defense terms has been noted by US policymakers and industry leaders who seek to maintain what is, for now, a primarily American dominated industry.

US Plans and Vision for AI

The Washington DC-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has recently rolled out its Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative.

The initiative seeks to bring together technology experts, policymakers and the media to explore the impact AI will have on all aspects of security from more indirect threats to infrastructure, the flow of information and economics, to AI deployed directly on the battlefield in the form of autonomous weapon systems.

CNAS’ early November 2017 Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit included Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. (Google), Andrew Moore of Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Dario Amodei of OpenAI and Dr. Kathleen Fisher of Tufts University’s computer science department.

Together in a series of talks and sessions, the summit discussed the current state of AI, the potential benefits and threats the technology presents and the best way to remain competitive as other nations adopt and develop the technology further.

Developing the US Military’s “Third Offset”

Andrew Moore’s talk focused on the technical aspects of AI and made note of what security experts are calling a third potential “offset.”

The first offset was the United States military’s use of nuclear weapons to counter Soviet numerical superiority during the Cold War. The second offset involved the use of long-range guided weapons, stealth and new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology as demonstrated during the Gulf War.

The third offset, then, as described in 2014 by then US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, would focus on, “the fields of robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data, and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing.”

AI is included among the list of potential technologies that may offer the US military its third offset.

Maintaining US Lead in AI

Eric Schmidt would note that China’s national policy laid out regarding AI and Beijing’s ambitions to become a world leader in the field by 2030 presented a problem for the US who lacks any sort of comparable, unified policy. Schmidt noted the sluggish nature of American bureaucracy and the military’s current system of contracting that would likely prevent the US from keeping up.

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