Original article was published by Charles Stephen on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
7 Disturbing Reasons Why America Is Losing the AI War
Like it or not, our daily lives are becoming more and more digital. Expect this trend to keep accelerating in the future. This is because our lives are becoming more efficient as we continue to delegate more tasks to artificial intelligence (AI).
Virtually every area of our society is receiving a digital facelift. All we need to do is look around for evidence of this amazing new technical world.
However, as AI becomes more advanced, it is taking technology to even higher levels. Even more significant is the fact that we are fast approaching singularity — which is when AI becomes as smart as humans.
Importance of AI Authority
The value of achieving global AI dominance is not lost on the leaders of the world’s top nations. They are fully aware of what is at stake in the AI race.
AI technologies are expected to completely revolutionize medicine, communications, military weapons, and even social engineering¹. This impact could be so significant that the entire world might become dependent on solutions rendered by AI. And the country that creates these solutions will have the upper hand.
Why America is Losing the AI War
In the end, it comes down to two countries who are battling for AI domination — America and China. And China will most likely win the AI war. Here are seven (7) reasons why America is losing this AI race.
Declining Academic Support
Unfortunately, America is not getting the support of academia when it comes to AI dominance. There are three major ways that China has an academic advantage over the United States in its pursuit of AI.
American students not meeting STEM demand. For several years, American industries have been begging for more students from the science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) fields of study².
Even though these disciplines pay much bigger salaries and have a massive demand for more people, American students remain more interested in issues like social justice. This is disturbing when you consider how our society is becoming more technologically driven. Will the next generation be able to function in the new world?
Chinese students swear their allegiance to China. The Chinese government sends its students to all the world’s major universities. These loyal students return to China with the latest knowledge from the world’s best scholars.
China also demands that universities within China become party leadership strongholds³. They are depending on their scholars to mold young minds and promote their nation’s Marxist doctrine.
American Universities support China’s progress. The Chinese government promotes university centers in other countries to further their agenda such as the Confucius Institutes in America⁴. As of this writing, there are over 100 of these institutes that are functioning in America’s colleges.
American universities not only embrace these students because they are receiving tuition from the Chinese government, but they are also allowing valuable research to be freely used in China with very little restriction. And not to mention how these foreign students are taking up valuable slots in colleges that could otherwise be given to American students.
Declining Private Sector Support
There are distinct differences in the relationships that China and the United States have with their respective private sectors. While the US regulates a few vital industries like banking, utilities, and healthcare, they mostly allow the private sector to act on its own.
On the other hand, China demands that its industries fully support the national controlling party. This includes espionage as well as technologies and all market entities.
At a glance, this arrangement might appear to favor the Americans, but this is not the case. China exploits the freedom of America’s private sector to their advantage. They know that capitalists typically serve the highest bidder and the Chinese government does not have to answer to voters for budgetary decisions.
And American capitalists are licking their chops over China’s huge market⁵. And they seem to be turning a blind eye to China’s alleged human rights violations. This explains why the NBA and its stars recently refused to denounce China’s treatment of protesters in Hong Kong, while quick to speak out harshly against similar activities elsewhere⁶.
Examples of American Private Enterprise assisting China’s questionable behavior:
OpenPower Foundation is a nonprofit led by IBM and Google executives to “drive innovation”. A collaboration was set up by a Chinese company called Semptian, IBM, along with US chipmaker Xilinx. They developed new kinds of microprocessors that allowed computers to efficiently evaluate huge amounts of data.
Semptian is now providing these devices for internet surveillance as well as censorship application technology to agencies that abuse human rights in China, according to various documents and sources⁷. Insiders allege that OpenPower’s technology is used to covertly spy on the internet activities of some 200 million people.
Microsoft and Amazon have been supplying various web services to Chinese surveillance firms that have been blacklisted — according to recent reports⁸. These questionable surveillance firms from China were “blacklisted” in October 2019.
These Chinese firms were implicated in numerous violations of human rights and other abuses. This was part of the Chinese ongoing campaign of repression, electronic surveillance, and mass arbitrary detention against Kazakhs, Uighurs, and other Muslim minority groups within China’s Xinjiang region. Why would US companies support these actions?
Google opened an AI Research Center in China. This was announced months after Google had hired a significant number of Chinese AI talent⁹. Google claimed that they want to make use of the deep pool of technological talent within the Chinese hiring pool.
This announcement was made even though Google’s search engine had been blocked in China at the time. The lab intends to publish its work and support the AI research community through sponsoring and funding AI workshops and conferences in China. And there is no commitment to share whatever technologies are discovered there.
American enterprises have proven over and over again that they will sell out to whoever will enhance their bottom line. Unfortunately, if this means giving away global AI dominance to the highest bidder — so be it.
Impediments by Individual Rights
In the United States, human and individual rights are revered. Each major decision affecting the country as a whole is evaluated as to how it might affect individual rights. Thus, the overall goal becomes centered on social justice.
In China, the one controlling party takes precedence over all things. All decisions are made based on the common good of the nation. Therefore, the overall goal is economic and technical dominance.
Due to the unique priorities between China and the United States, the two governments face a different set of decisions when it comes to advancing AI in their respective countries. China has the advantage of being more focused and streamlined than the United States.
American lawmakers are burdened with ensuring that human rights are not violated with each AI decision¹⁰. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes valuable time. This is a huge advantage for the Chinese as they can act quickly on AI issues while the United States gets bogged down in red tape.
Freedom of Speech Issues
As we all know, freedom of speech is a huge part of living in America. Everyone is free to speak their mind and opinion without reprisals from the US government.
Conversely, the Chinese people are forbidden to speak out against the government, its leaders, and the ruling party. Doing so would mean subjecting oneself to torture or imprisonment — or both.
In regards to advancing AI, China has an advantage over America in regards to free speech. This is because Chinese officials can quickly strike down any radical group that would oppose their AI developments.
However in America, not only can a radical group create a huge movement against AI advancements, but they can also recruit thousands to join their cause. In addition to this, capital can be raised to buy media which will expand their cause even bigger.
Often, these kinds of movements have to be overcome to advance any kind of political agenda.
Presidential Term Limits
In March 2018, China decided to abolish presidential term limits, which means that President Xi Jinping will remain in office for the rest of his life¹¹. He will become the most powerful leader in China since Chairman Mao passed away in 1976.
In the United States, the maximum number of terms for the president is two terms — which means no more than 8 total years in the White House for anyone.
This is another big advantage China has over America in regards to the AI race. President Xi has already established a national goal of dominating AI throughout the world. He can focus solely on that goal. He does not have to spend time campaigning for an upcoming election, and he can assign vital people to his AI goal and not worry about them losing an election or being replaced.
Conversely, American presidents have to devote ample time and money every four years to be elected. While China is working towards AI domination, the American president has to campaign and raise money.
And whenever new presidents are elected, they may have differing opinions about AI than their predecessor did. The new president could suspend all progress toward AI domination or could move the program in a new direction. Either way, the previous four years of progress would be rendered useless. And China moves even further ahead.
Openness of Technology
There is a vast difference in attitudes between American and Chinese AI researchers.
For reasons no one can explain, American AI researchers seem to be proud of sharing their latest AI creations on open-source platforms for anyone to grab. They somehow see this as a virtuous act and wear it like a badge of honor.
Yet Chinese Ai researchers understand the value of an intellectual property and steal it at every opportunity because of demands from their government¹². Many of them are well versed in espionage methods while their American counterparts are too busy wallowing in naivety.
American AI researchers never give it one thought as to why most of their Chinese counterparts can speak English very well yet they can’t understand one word of Chinese. Nor do they ever wonder why Chinese AI researchers immediately translate stolen intellectual property into the Chinese language.
In the end, this sharing and openness of technology are benefiting China far more than America.
Erosion of American Patriotism
In recent years, it has become vogue for some Americans to criticize America and its values¹³. They extend this notion by seeing all other cultures in the world above America — even to the extent of condoning violations of values they once held dear. An example of this is when human rights violations in China are ignored or when they overlook the harsh treatments of women in certain countries¹⁴.
They often become so ashamed of their own culture, they feel that any positive view of America relative to other cultures would be racist.
China has benefited greatly from this erosion of patriotism in America. They see this as a chance to not only promote their policies, they can also sow chaos and discontent in the minds of many Americans — it’s a win-win for them.
When patriotism is lost, American workers will not be motivated to do their part in achieving AI dominance.