In the second half of 2018, I traveled to China on four separate trips to attend major diplomatic, military, and private-sector conferences focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI). During these trips, I participated in a series of meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaders of China’s military AI research organizations, government think tank experts, and corporate executives at Chinese AI companies. From these discussions – as well as my ongoing work analyzing China’s AI industry, policies, reports, and programs – I have arrived at a number of key judgments about Chinese leadership’s views, strategies, and prospects for AI as it applies to China’s economy and national security. Of course, China’s leadership in this area is a large population with diversity in its views, and any effort to generalize is inherently presumptuous and essentially guaranteed to oversimplify. However, the distance is large between prevailing views in American commentary on China’s AI efforts and what I have come to believe are the facts. I hope by stating my takeaways directly, this report will advance the assessment of this issue and be of benefit to the wider U.S. policymaking community.
Gregory C. Allen at the Center for a New American Security has produced a report with analysis and insights into China's AI strategy with national and cyber-security implications for the commercial, government, and military sectors.
In Beijing, the machine’s victory cracked the air like a warning shot. That impression was only reinforced when, over the next few months, the Obama administration published a series of reports grappling with the benefits and risks of AI. The papers made a series of recommendations for government action, both to stave off potential job losses from automation and to invest in the development of machine learning. A group of senior policy wonks inside China’s science and technology bureaucracy, who had already been working on their own plan for AI, believed they were seeing signs of a focused, emerging US strategy—and they needed to act fast.
In May 2017, AlphaGo triumphed again, this time over Ke Jie, a Chinese Go master, ranked at the top of the world. Two months later, China unveiled its Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, a document that laid out the country’s strategy to become the global leader in AI by 2030. And with this clear signal from Beijing, it was as if a giant axle began to turn in the machinery of the industrial state. Other Chinese government ministries soon issued their own plans, based on the strategy sketched out by Beijing’s planners. Expert advisory groups and industry alliances cropped up, and local governments all over China began to fund AI ventures.
Remember when the word computer was used to refer to a human being.
When Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar stepped on stage tonight as one of the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress—the other, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, was also elected Tuesday night—she led with “as-salam alaikum.” Then: “alhamdulillah.” I’m transported. This was not an acceptance speech I expected to hear. In a cycle recently dubbed “the most Islamophobic election ever,” even basic Muslim salutations on a stage like this feel like a tangible achievement.
This is how the United States is supposed to work.