It suddenly became clear that China has become a leader in the development of one of the key technologies of the future – artificial intelligence. According to American experts, “it’s all over”, China is forever ahead of the United States. How and why did this happen? And what are Russia’s positions in this technological race?
Nicolas Chaillant, the first director of software at the Pentagon to resign in protest at the slow pace of technological change in the US military, said the failure to respond to the rapid development of artificial intelligence puts US interests in direct jeopardy. “In 15-20 years, we (the United States – approx. VIEW) will not have any chance to resist China. Now, this is already a settled issue: in my opinion, everything is already over, ”he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
His statement is perfectly clear. From the specialist’s point of view, the US has already lost the race to China in the development of artificial intelligence systems.
China and the US: two approaches
The development of AI in the US is haphazard, Shaian said, as big tech companies like Google are trying to wind down their developments, unwilling to share AI technologies not only with potential competitors but even with the US government. In addition, the development of AI in the United States is hampered by constant ethical disputes about the technology itself, in which the leitmotif of the “rise of the machines” is constantly intertwined with questions of “machine morality” and its difference from the generally accepted one. , human.
On the contrary, Chinese companies are obliged to cooperate with their government and invest heavily in the field of AI without regard to ethical standards. In addition, the development of AI in China is proceeding according to a clear plan with clear and achievable goals and objectives.
Shayan’s statements caused a strong reaction in the American media. He announced his resignation from the Pentagon in early September, saying that military officials were repeatedly tasked with cybernetic initiatives that they simply lacked the experience to implement. In addition, then he said that US cyber defense in some government departments is at the level of “kindergarten”.
However, such a sharp statement about the US strategic lag behind China in such a key area as AI was made at such a high level for the first time.
What is AI fighting for?
The main document that China relies on upon the field of AI development is the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Program”, adopted in June 2017 by the State Council of the PRC. This framework document includes the country’s strategic goals in the field of AI (at least the publicly declared aspect of them), the time frame for achieving them, contains the bureaucratic mechanisms for organizing work and lists the sources of funding.
From this document, which covers the period up to 2025, it can be seen that the main goal of China at the current stage is the creation of high-quality so-called weak AI. This is a purely Chinese approach, extremely utilitarian and mundane. The Chinese do not need a “machine mind” that is superior in intelligence to the human one, which the United States has so far unsuccessfully tried to overcome. The Chinese at this stage are striving to create a conditional “horse” or “dog” that will be obedient, executive and predictable in its behavior, but have all the power of information technology in its composition.
The program postulates that China’s AI focus will be on internet-connected cars, smart robots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), facial and voice recognition systems, and machine-assisted analysis of medical images. . All these tasks can easily be assigned to “weak” AI.
In addition, in China, on the basis of AI technologies, a new system for maintaining socio-political stability in the country is already being created and is being filled with might and main – the notorious scale of the “system of social trust” or “social credit”. “. In fact, Chinese AI is trained on a huge array of initial disparate data that ordinary Chinese constantly produce. Along the way, this closes another social gap – the low level of organization and horizontal interaction of the huge population of a large and heterogeneous country.
And finally, there is a fundamental section in the Chinese program. He postulates that the PRC needs to make a breakthrough in several key fundamental technologies at once – first of all, in the development of chips and neural networks, as well as open-source platforms. It is also said that AI development processes should not go in isolation from the real economy. Elements of artificial intelligence should be introduced everywhere in production processes, again exchanging for “electronic horses and dogs” those workers who are now engaged in tedious, unskilled and unproductive work.
It is precisely this danger of the “Chinese approach” that the Pentagon expert warns about. While the United States is in the clouds, investing billions of dollars in dubious and disparate projects to create “machine intelligence”, in the PRC, the development of AI is carried out within the framework of a clear and consistent plan that takes into account a rather abstract “common good”, but is very merciless to the problems of the individual citizen. The one who will be replaced by the “electronic horse” in production can be understood and pitied, just like a citizen of the PRC who has fallen on the “social credit” scale. However, in China, such sacrifices are considered appropriate and even somewhat inevitable.
Where is Russia going?
Unfortunately, today Russia lags behind in the field of AI development not only from China but also from the United States. A number of breakthrough Russian projects in the field of AI cannot compensate for the general lag in this multifaceted and vast area that permeates the entire economic and social life. There are several reasons for this. This is, of course, a non-competitive business environment, a general negative business climate in the country, ill-adapted to solving today’s problems in the field of AI, the risks of the Russian economy, which is under country sanctions in the cybersphere, and a general blurring of government priorities in the field of AI.
Russian AI projects are concentrated in an extremely narrow sector of the economy. In Russia, the leader in this area is Yandex, which has actually taken over the functions of the “Russian Google”. In addition, a significant part of the orders for the development of AI is formed by the state, although rather haphazardly: each of the departments and each of the regions has its own vision of the development of AI, often based on incompatible or simply opposite approaches. As a result, the development of AI in Russia is extremely “mosaic”, even with more problems than highlighted in the recent discussion in the US.
At the same time, in Russia, there is neither an American nor a Chinese approach to the creation of AI. Americans are highly individualistic and pragmatic, and as a result, their approach to AI is weighed down by both ethical quests and the desire to create a “personal mirror” in the form of strong AI. The Chinese, on the other hand, act from the “common good”, which they understand, calculating everything in the long term of their historical evolution as the main world civilization.
- Now this battle of two approaches to the creation of AI is in full swing. In the coming years, the winner will be finally determined in it, who will offer the whole world his model of a new civilization.
Today, Russia still has time to create its own unique model for creating AI, which would take into account the strengths of both the American and Chinese approaches. But such an undertaking requires the creation of a nationwide action program, which is already being successfully implemented in the PRC and the creation of which the United States is seriously considering. But in five years, it will most likely be too late – and Russia, unfortunately, will have to integrate into the already victorious global project of creating AI, which will take into account unique Russian interests in an extremely limited way.
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