AI News, Understanding China's AI Strategy

Lethal autonomous weapon

Lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) are a type of autonomous military robot that can independently search and engage targets based on programmed constraints and descriptions.[1]

Such systems can autonomously identify and attack oncoming missiles, rockets, artillery fire, aircraft and surface vessels according to criteria set by the human operator.

Systems with a higher degree of autonomy would include drones or unmanned combat aerial vehicles, e.g.: 'The unarmed BAE Systems Taranis jet-propelled combat drone prototype may lead to a Future Combat Air System that can autonomously search, identify and locate enemies but can only engage with a target when authorized by mission command.

According to The Economist, as technology advances, future applications of unmanned undersea vehicles might include mine clearance, mine-laying, anti-submarine sensor networking in contested waters, patrolling with active sonar, resupplying manned submarines, and becoming low-cost missile platforms.[6]

In 2018 Chinese scientists told the South China Morning Post that China is developing large autonomous submarines suitable for reconnaissance, mine placement, and 'suicide attacks' against enemy vessels, slated for deployment in the early 2020s.[17]

However, the policy requires that autonomous weapon systems that kill people or use kinetic force, selecting and engaging targets without further human intervention, be certified as compliant with 'appropriate levels' and other standards, not that such weapon systems cannot meet these standards and are therefore forbidden.[22]

In October 2016 President Barack Obama stated that early in his career he was wary of a future in which a US president making use of drone warfare could 'carry on perpetual wars all over the world, and a lot of them covert, without any accountability or democratic debate'.[24][25]

Sharkey 2012) about whether LAWs would violate International Humanitarian Law, especially the principle of distinction, which requires the ability to discriminate combatants from non-combatants, and the principle of proportionality, which requires that damage to civilians is proportional to the military aim.

In July 2015, over 1,000 experts in artificial intelligence signed a letter warning of the threat of an arms race in military artificial intelligence and calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.

According to PAX fully automated weapons (FAWs) will lower the threshold of going to war as soldiers are removed from the battlefield and the public is distanced from experiencing war, giving politicians and other decision-makers more space in deciding when and how to go to war.[32]

They warn that once deployed, FAWs will make democratic control of war more difficult - something that author of Kill Decision - a novel on the topic - and IT specialist Daniel Suarez also warned about: according to him it might recentralize power into very few hands by requiring very few people to go to war.[32]

In November of 2018, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, stated that “In order to prevent an arms race and the increase of inequalities and instability, it is an imperative duty to act promptly: now is the time to prevent LAWS from becoming the reality of tomorrow’s warfare.” The Church worries that these weapons systems have the capability to irreversibly alter the nature of warfare, create detachment from human agency and put in question the humanity of societies.[34]

Inside the U.S. and China's Incoming Artificial Intelligence Cold War

The U.S., meanwhile, is actively pulling back from the world, deliberately alienating allies and turning its back on the rules-based international order it has invested in so deeply since 1945.

The second group focuses more on weaknesses in China: huge demographic change as China ages rapidly and has a much smaller workforce to support elders due to decades of the one-child policy, finally relaxed in 2013.

As Chinese growth slows and the leadership tightens the grip of one-party rule, the argument goes, the government will face repeated waves of social unrest.

Chinese investments abroad will generate as much resentment as influence, potentially leading to the same kinds of nationalization of Chinese assets as the U.S. faced in African and Latin American countries in the 1960s and '70s.

This view sees the U.S.'s pullback as less of a retrenchment than a recognition that it must encourage its allies, both East and West, to take on more active roles in upholding a multipolar global and regional order.

Experts and futurists focused on the rise of artificial intelligence as the next world-shifting technology—on par with the steam engine, electricity, and the digital revolution—see both China and the U.S. leaving other countries far behind.

Lee was born in Taiwan, educated in the U.S. beginning in middle school, founded and ran Google China, and is now chief executive officer of Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in the next generation of Chinese high-tech companies.

In addition, he claims, the Chinese tech work ethic puts Americans to shame, and the far greater competition among start-ups in China requires teams to be more attentive to customizing their products for users while operating on razor-thin profit margins.

Interestingly, Lee leads the way, devoting the last part of AI Superpowers to his own realization, after receiving a cancer diagnosis, that his workaholism and fanatic devotion to building tech companies paled beside what was really important in life: "loving and being loved."

And yet they are developing products for white and Asian males at a time when the users of those products are 50 percent female (or more, given that women are more active on social media than men and make the majority of household purchasing decisions) and are ever more heterogeneous racially and ethnically.

Yet, assuming that the U.S. does in fact learn how to draw on all of its talent and embrace a national identity that reflects the world, American traditions of individualism, openness, rebellion, and humanism (notwithstanding a national infatuation with STEM) will offer the best chance of harnessing A.I.

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