4 August 2020 — Mint Press
A Washington think tank and Congress issued a bipartisan plan for AI, which utilizes the veneer of technology to formally cast China as the number one obstacle to US hegemony
A bipartisan plan for artificial intelligence (AI) in relation to national security has just been released by U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Will Hurd (R-TX). The report was put together by the D.C.-based think tank Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) of Georgetown University, in addition to industry representatives and academics, as well as other government officials.
The proposal comes as anti-China rhetoric begins to coalesce in the policy-forming circles of the U.S. government. “American leadership and advanced technology has been critical to our success since World War II, and we are in a race with the government of China,” Hurd stated. “It’s time for Congress to play its role.” Most of the document, however, focuses on China and Russia as threats to American hegemony, with AI being just the latest excuse to assert its power over aligned nations and launch threats of economic warfare and tease military action against non-aligned countries.
Recent headlines about the possible acquisition of the Chinese video platform TikTok by Microsoft and Trump’s threats to ban the social media company from operating in the U.S. underscore the aggressive tactics now being employed by the government and American tech firms, in tandem, to assert U.S. hegemony over AI systems worldwide.
The tussle over mobile software applications is occurring as the U.S. Department of Justice brings hacking charges against Chinese nationals and the FBI lobs accusations against the Chinese consulate in San Francisco of harboring fugitives. Meanwhile, a Congressional inquiry into the alleged disappearance of a Chinese Catholic Bishop adds to the strong signals that the U.S. is moving into cold war footing against the Asian nation.
Principles and takeaways
The AI plan is based on three reports issued by the National Security Commission on AI; established in 2018 by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 115-232).
The Commission, co-chaired by former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt and former deputy secretary of defense Robert O. Work, recently created an advisory committee to steer policy in regards to applications of AI.
The Commission has come under fire for holding closed-door meetings and for failing to publicly disclose their recommendations. A decision handed down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in June held that the Commission must abide by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and must “hold open meetings and proactively provide records and other materials to the public.” The Commission is set to expire in one year, by October 2021.
The bipartisan plan on AI offers five “Key Principles” the first of which involves the implementation of the DoD’s “Ethical Principles for AI,” a set of broad rules meant to guide “both combat and non-combat functions” of AI, which are to be enforced by the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC); an agency established in 2018 within the Pentagon. The JAIC is currently led by acting director, Nand Mulchandani of DoD enterprise software contractor, Citrix, and former Chief of the FBI’s Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit, Stephen T. Homeyer.
The second “principle” alludes to cooperating “selectively and pragmatically” with China and Russia. The third implies surveillance of other countries’ AI capabilities and “perspectives,” while the fourth calls for greater investment in R&D for artificial intelligence and promoting “standardization” to achieve more “trustworthy” AI systems. The fifth brings it full circle back to the confrontational stance of the U.S. government by recommending “export and investment controls” to prevent the transfer of sensitive AI technologies to China.
The plan then offers several takeaways, such as the “operational advantage against adversaries,” AI-enabled command and control “as envisioned by programs such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Mosaic Warfare and the Air Force’s Multi-Domain Command and Control.” In addition, it adds two recommendations regarding the use of AI for logistical aspects of the U.S. military “including troop rotations,” counseling the “implementation of enterprise AI applications” to these ends.
Other parts of the plan revolve around autonomous vehicles and weapons systems. The former, in particular, has important implications for the private sector as ride-sharing companies like Uber and car-makers alike push for policies to shape the burgeoning autonomous vehicle market. But, due to the technology’s requirements to “perceive and map the environment, fuse sensor data, identify obstacles, plan navigation, and communicate with other vehicles,” it has the potential to bleed into many other sectors of the economy and local levels of government, down to zoning laws.
In an interview earlier this month, JAIC acting director Nand Mulchandani advanced this narrative when he claimed China had “the world’s most advanced [AI] capabilities, such as unregulated facial recognition for universal surveillance and control of their domestic population, trained on Chinese video gathered from their systems.” Mulchandani, nevertheless, conceded that the “U.S. is capable of doing similar things,” but offered only the U.S. Constitution as the barrier that would prevent America from building “such universal surveillance and censorship systems.” A less than comforting thought, to say the least.
Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.
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