China, according to a report from the Center for a New American Security, is warning that global controls and international agreements on artificial intelligence are needed, or else a technological “arms race” will soon enough lead to world war.
America shouldn’t be fooled.
This is the same China that demands developed countries “pay their debts” on climate change, while bucking environmental controls on its own production. Now, the country is simply shaking its duplicitous head at the technology sector.
Almost two years ago, China’s State Council openly announced plans to become the “world’s primary A.I. innovation center” by 2030. And away it’s gone. Since, the government has committed billions for technology research. The state-run education system has harped on technology training and doubled down on math and science. And data collection — the key component of the A.I. and machine learning sectors — has gone forth in the public sector at an unbridled, and unrivaled, pace.
America, with all of its civil rights laws and privacy rules and constitutional concerns simply cannot compete with China on the data collection front, while remaining on the side of individual freedom.
But now China is expressing worries about a technologically fueled “arms race” and calling for worldwide agreements — meaning worldwide controls?
In “Understanding China’s AI Strategy: Clues to Chinese Strategic Thinking on Artificial Intelligence and National Security,” the CNAS’s Gregor Allen writes: “Recently, Chinese officials and government reports have begun to express concern in multiple diplomatic forums about arms race dynamics associated with AI and the need for international cooperation on new norms and potentially arms control.”
Allen goes on to cite several instances of China’s mouthpieces expressing the “threat of the new [A.I.] technology to mankind,” the need for the world to “cooperate to preemptively prevent the threat of AI,” and the duty to develop international “mechanisms that are similar to arms control” for certain A.I. applications.
In 2018, China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology pressed the government to “avoid Artificial Intelligence arms races among countries;” in 2019, at the Davos World Economic Forum, Alibaba executive Jack Ma expressed fears the technology competition among nations would lead to global war.
All that may indeed be true.
The race to dominate in technology may indeed cause sparks between nations; may indeed demand some far-reaching alliances and agreements to keep from crossing lines; may indeed fuel unintended consequences that cause lasting harm to humans.
But the thing is: China can’t have it both ways.
China can’t fight for A.I. dominance but then want to hamstring all the other nations from pursuing the same — by pretending concerns of war. By doing so, China’s simply trying to take out the competition.
America, once again, should not be fooled. On artificial intelligence at least, America should remain steadfastly “America First” in both vision and policy.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.