The Pentagon’s former software chief has said that China’s technological advances has meant it has won the artificial intelligence battle with the United States and is heading towards global dominance.
According to Western intelligence assessments, the world’s second largest economy is likely to dominate many of the key emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics within a decade or so.
Nicolas Chaillan, the Pentagon's first chief software officer who resigned in protest against the slow pace of technological transformation in the U.S. military, said the failure to respond was putting the United States at risk.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Chaillan said: "We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion. Whether it takes a war or not is kind of anecdotal."
He added he thought China was set to dominate the future of the world, controlling everything from media narratives to geopolitics.
Sluggish innovation, ethical questions and kindergarten cyber defences
Chaillan blamed sluggish innovation and extensive ethical debates over the technology, among other things and added that Chinese companies were ‘obliged’ to work with their government and were making "massive investment" in AI without regard to ethics.
He also said he thought U.S. cyber defences in some government departments were at "kindergarten level".
Chaillan announced his resignation at the beginning of September, saying military officials were repeatedly put in charge of cyber initiatives for which they lacked experience.
China’s Artificial Intelligence aims
In 2017 the Chinese government published its own ‘New Generation AI Development Plan’ which set out a three-step strategy to meet its aspirations for this technology. The first step was to achieve the same level of competency as leading countries, such as the United States, and to develop an industry worth at least RMB 150 billion by 2020. The second step is to become the country which regularly makes the major breakthroughs in AI, and develop an industry worth at least RMB 400 billion by 2025. The final step, to be achieved by 2030, is the country’s aim to become the leading AI power with an industry worth at least RMB 1000 billion.