Google co-founder Larry Page has added weight to concerns over US-China investment rivalry in artificial intelligence
A former US defence department official has told state department staff that he was “not surprised” by Chinese missiles fired from South China Sea islands toward Japanese-controlled islands, according to a report.
Peter Singer, author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, told reporters during a February 10 in-house discussion that he recently asked former US defense department officials whether they were surprised to see “precision-guided guided missiles fired from eastern and southern Hainan Island from artificial islands that Japan and the United States call the Senkaku Islands”.
“I was in the room – I wasn’t surprised to see it – but I do take great issue with suggesting that this somehow signals the end of the race and that the US cannot win this race,” said Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
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When asked whether he was worried about the technology “advancing at such a rapid pace that it could be all but fatal to our country”, Singer replied: “I’m not, because what I can see is the edge that we’ve had in artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is being outrun, if not outpriced, by our rivals.”
A secretary of state spokesperson, Michael Cavey, expressed concern on Thursday that “the recent recent action demonstrates the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to militarize outposts in the South China Sea”.
“We are deeply concerned about such efforts and will continue to address them with the Chinese government,” Cavey said.
Larry Page, Google co-founder and chief executive of the tech giant Alphabet, has added weight to concerns over a US-China investment rivalry in artificial intelligence and robotics by warning that the United States is running out of time to win the race.
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Singer said that an analysis of the deployments and response to them show that China has “learned how to employ their artificial intelligence within its national and political interests to advance their very real security interests”.
“The only weapons system that I can think of that matches this could be the nuclear weapon, and I think if the Chinese are the ones to get the benefit of their effort, they’ll probably improve the reliability, but I’m not sure there’s such a thing as accuracy that’s greater than nuclear weapons.”
“They are often claimed to be perfectly reliable – nobody can keep down a perfect science – but I don’t know anyone who can say the technology is infallible.”
He said the US remains “far better equipped with international norms and rules and a universal sense of just what we believe makes the world go round”.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had no immediate comment when asked about Singer’s comment.
In October, China tested a new hypersonic surface-to-air missile, which it said could target multiple targets from a range of thousands of miles and travel three times the speed of sound.
In January, China tested a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, state media said, amid heightened tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea.