Pentagon fears China could soon surpass US on aI due to Beijing’s ‘military-civil fusion’ strategy

Pentagon fears China could soon surpass US on aI due to Beijing’s ‘military-civil fusion’ strategy
# 31 August 2019 17:43 (UTC +04:00)

The US Department of Defence is concerned about falling behind China on AI thanks to that country’s well-oiled civilian-military technology partnerships, DOD Joint Artificial Intelligence Centre director Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan has said, APA reports citing Sputnik.

“If we do not find a way to strengthen the bonds between the United States government and industry and academia, then I would say we do have the real risk of not moving as fast as China when it comes to [AI],” Shanahan said, speaking at a press briefing in Washington on Friday, his remarks quoted by Business Insider.

According to the officer, while the US military’s AI-related projects have been hindered by some tech giants’ reluctance to cooperate with the Pentagon, China does not face this issue, with its ‘Civil Military Fusion’ strategy giving them “a leg up” against Washington in this field.

Last year, Google ended its cooperation with the Pentagon on Project Maven, a machine-learning and AI project looking to give the military with the capability to differentiate people and objects via drone footage. Following Google’s decision to back out of the project, Microsoft’s then-CEO Brad Smith said the company would be happy to provide the Pentagon with “all the technology we create.” Amazon has similarly voiced its interest in working with the defence department on cloud computing and battlefield AI initiatives for the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure programme.

However, Shanahan fears current cooperation may not be enough, saying that the military will need to “work hard on strengthening the relationships we have with commercial industry.”

“The idea of that civil-military integration does give strength in terms of [China's] ability to take commercial and make it military as fast as they can,” Shanahan stressed.

According to Shanahan, the US had previously enjoyed a time when the military could depend on the technology sector, but these ties have “splintered” over the years. “That is a limitation for us,” he said.

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