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The artificial intelligence race with China

Koranteng Asiamah

Sept. 21, 2019

I am so old that I remember when the USSR’s launch of Sputnik, the first satellite humans put into orbit, triggered panic and the ensuing “space race,” in which massive sums of money and energy were devoted to making America the leader in space.  We are now in the midst of a comparable science and technology contest with China to maintain leadership in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).
As with space, the strategic fruits of tech dominance can be decisive in geopolitics. The nation that claims decisive leadership may be able to maintain military and economic weaponry that assures global dominance.
But there is one key difference between the space race and the AI race. Not all of Americas leading universities and corporations in the field – the vehicles our economic system uses for cutting edge development -- are playing on our team.
Gordon Chang has written an important article, published by the Gatestone Institute , on the AI race, with special attention to the role of Google.
One key excerpt:
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor, has in recent weeks severely criticized the search giant. "I think it is unprecedented in the last 100 years, or ever, that a major U.S. company refused to work with the U.S. military and has worked with our geopolitical rival," he said on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" on August 11 th .
Google has in various statements denied charges like the ones Thiel has been making, but its contentions, although technically true, appear disingenuous. First, the company has said it works with the Pentagon, but it is nonetheless not renewing its Project Maven contract , an AI project analyzing drone footage.
Second, Google denies working with the Chinese military, but as Thiel, a PayPal cofounder, points out, its "civilian" projects are actually military in disguise. "It's not like the U.S., where you have different companies and different people and you have a government sector and a private sector and these things don't always coordinate or work together," Thiel said on Fox. "In China, these things are still tightly coordinated across the board."
In the China of Xi Jinping, the aggressive ruler, "civil-military fusion" means nominally civilian research is pipelined into the Chinese military.
Hat tip: Mike Nadler
I am so old that I remember when the USSR’s launch of Sputnik, the first satellite humans put into orbit, triggered panic and the ensuing “space race,” in which massive sums of money and energy were devoted to making America the leader in space.  We are now in the midst of a comparable science and technology contest with China to maintain leadership in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).
As with space, the strategic fruits of tech dominance can be decisive in geopolitics. The nation that claims decisive leadership may be able to maintain military and economic weaponry that assures global dominance.
Sputnik's launch woke America from its slumber ( source )
But there is one key difference between the space race and the AI race. Not all of Americas leading universities and corporations in the field – the vehicles our economic system uses for cutting edge development -- are playing on our team.
Gordon Chang has written an important article, published by the Gatestone Institute , on the AI race, with special attention to the role of Google.
One key excerpt:
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor, has in recent weeks severely criticized the search giant. "I think it is unprecedented in the last 100 years, or ever, that a major U.S. company refused to work with the U.S. military and has worked with our geopolitical rival," he said on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" on August 11 th .
Google has in various statements denied charges like the ones Thiel has been making, but its contentions, although technically true, appear disingenuous. First, the company has said it works with the Pentagon, but it is nonetheless not renewing its Project Maven contract , an AI project analyzing drone footage.
Second, Google denies working with the Chinese military, but as Thiel, a PayPal cofounder, points out, its "civilian" projects are actually military in disguise. "It's not like the U.S., where you have different companies and different people and you have a government sector and a private sector and these things don't always coordinate or work together," Thiel said on Fox. "In China, these things are still tightly coordinated across the board."
In the China of Xi Jinping, the aggressive ruler, "civil-military fusion" means nominally civilian research is pipelined into the Chinese military.
Hat tip: Mike Nadler
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