'Already a Done Deal': Ex-Pentagon Chief Software Officer Says US Yielding to China in AI Battle
11:03 GMT 11.10.2021 (Updated: 11:59 GMT 26.10.2022)
Late last year, a leading Washington-based think tank on science and technology claimed in a report that China is catching up to the United States in the ongoing rivalry for the top spot as the global leader in artificial intelligence.
Nicolas Chaillan, who resigned as First USAF Chief Software Officer in September, has told the Financial Times
he stepped down because he could not tolerate to see China overtake America in terms of artificial intelligence
"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", Chaillan claimed, adding that there was "good reason to be angry".
According to him, China is on its way toward global technological dominance because of its purported breakthroughs in AI, machine learning, and cyber capabilities.
He asserted that these emerging technologies were much more important for the future of the US than advanced military hardware, including the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet.
"Whether it takes a war or not is kind of anecdotal", the ex-USAF chief software officer said, arguing that US cyber defence systems in some government departments were at "kindergarten level".
He also blamed Google's unwillingness to collaborate with the Pentagon on AI amid ongoing debates over AI ethics. Chaillan added that in China, companies are obliged to work with Beijing and make "massive investments" in AI without regard to ethics.
27 January 2021, 02:56 GMT
He also signalled a readiness to testify before Congress in the coming weeks about the purported Chinese cyber threat to US supremacy.
The remarks followed a warning by a US congressional-national security commission that China may surpass America as the world's AI superpower in the next decade.
In July, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin spoke about an "urgent need" to develop responsible artificial intelligence, referring to a new $1.5 billion investment, which he said would accelerate the Department of Defence's (DOD) adoption of AI over the next five years. At the same time, Lloyd made it clear the DOD would not "cut corners on safety, security, or ethics".
This came after a report by the Washington-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in late December 2020 found that despite the US leading in the development and implementation of AI, China is quickly rising in this field.
"The Chinese government has made AI a top priority and the results are showing. The United States and European Union need to pay attention to what China is doing and respond, because nations that lead in the development and use of AI will shape its future and significantly improve their economic competitiveness, while those that fall behind risk losing competitiveness in key industries", Daniel Castro, ITIF innovation centre director and lead report author said.
The study was released amid increased efforts by China to invest in emerging technologies via a $1.4 trillion initiative in line with the State Council's "Made in China" programme aimed at decoupling the mainland from foreign technologies. The plan stipulates investing in new technologies in AI, semiconductors, green energy, 5G, and infrastructure, among many others, over the next five years.