Winner Takes All: The US-China Race To AI Mastery

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Apr 17, 2023 - 09:40 PM

Authored by James Gorrie via The Epoch Times,

AI competition may prove to be the last technology race in the world...

The AI-powered ChatGPT is intensifying the competition between the United States and China for artificial intelligence dominance.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

For the sake of clarity, ChatGPT is the AI-driven tool that can create documents, reports, and other content with just a question or a few key words. It was created by OpenAI, a Bay Area technology firm started by tech standouts such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and other tech luminaries.

The good news is how ChatGPT has brought the race for AI dominance back into the national conversation. The potential for AI technology to alter our world is difficult to overstate, even though ChatGPT technology itself barely scratches the surface of what AI technology can really do.

AI Will Transform Everything

Both the United States and China are fully engaged in efforts to master AI technology in its most powerful applications, which includes creating so-called “deep fakes” that put words into people’s mouths and put people in places they never were. Even those capabilities are mere shadows of what is to come.

In a few short years at most, the way we do even the most common tasks, from manufacturing goods, transporting them, and marketing them will be radically changed. Medicines, machines, and methodologies of inquiry will all be fundamentally different under AI. AI will change every activity or industry to which it is applied, and that includes rapid advancements in biotechnology and its transformational impact on warfare.

The AI Race Will Be the Last Race

The race for AI mastery isn’t the first time that nations have raced to achieve technological dominance in the world. The race to reach the moon comes to mind, but it was ideological almost as much as it was technological in its impact. The race to develop the first atomic bomb during the Second World War is a better comparison. Many observers believe that AI represents nothing less than a paradigm shift for the entire world and across the spectrum of industries and scientific applications.

That’s what makes AI a qualitatively different technology than all others. It will forever alter the relationship between humanity and machines. Humanity’s great innovation was the replication and transformation of the natural world into the mechanization and manipulation of it. It was only just over a century ago that mankind transitioned from horse to automobile, then on to flight, and then to space flight.

A visitor watches an AI sign on an animated screen at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry’s biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona. (Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images)

A concurrent shift occurred with the communication revolution, effectively compressing time and distance by the speed of light. This not only made the world smaller and events more impactful as they’re witnessed in real time, but it also shortened reaction times.

The AI revolution, however, is a quantum leap in technological advancement. AI is the actual dematerialization of machines and the separation of thought from humanity, neither of which has ever happened before. For the first time ever, mankind is threatened not just with destruction from a man-made device, but by our own creations replacing us altogether.

China’s Big Data and Surveillance

That’s no exaggeration. Philosopher Yuval Harari has warned of AI rendering humans as obsolete and “useless.” Harari isn’t the only one to see the red flags. Elon Musk has said that AI is “summoning the demon,” implying that once released, it will be beyond our control.

That remains to be seen. But both statements are a nod to the power that AI may well yield to those who first acquire the requisite level of skill and technology. Accordingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin observed that whoever masters AI will be master of the world.

He’s probably right, and the Chinese Communist Party has every intention of doing both.

A Chinese man plays online games at an internet cafe in Wuhan, China, in this file photo. The Chinese regime’s cyber strategy is not fun and games, however, it is real cyber war against the United States.  (Cancan Chu/Getty Images)

Despite ChatGPT’s impressive debut, China is ahead of the United States where it really counts: in research. According to their most recent five year plan, Chinese planners have set rigorous goals for 2030 that include investing up to $1.4 trillion in new AI infrastructure such as data centers, 5G, the industrial internet, and other enabling technologies.

Their objective is to attain an unassailable position in AI-driven technologies, and in some key respects, such as access to big data, they’re well-positioned to reach their goal. With 1.4 billion people and one of the world’s most surveilled populations, Chinese researchers have access to the largest databases in the world with few if any privacy restrictions.

China Rushing to Create Superior AI-Driven Military

The time period of 2025 to 2030 has tremendous defense implications for the United States, since that’s when China’s global AI leadership is scheduled to be realized. Indeed, China’s military advancement plan calls for AI implementation by 2030, with an ambitious and comprehensive application across the entire military asset spectrum.

China’s plan includes integrating neural networks with nuclear armed hypersonic glide vehicles, AI-enhanced automatic target recognition, auto-piloting, missile fusion, precision guidance for hypersonic platforms, maneuverability, and more. Beijing is also looking to AI for heretofore unimaginable ways to wage cyber warfare on its adversaries. The upshot is within a few years, Beijing aims to change the entire calculus of offensive strategic weapons dynamics through deep AI integration.

Ultimately, the race for AI dominance between the United States and China may not just come down to committing investment and intellectual resources, but rather, how fast the technology can be put into action.

It may also be a question of keeping technological intellectual property from being sold or stolen, which the U.S. government has shown repeatedly it is unable to prevent.