United States has lost AI battle to China, Pentagon’s ex-software chief says

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Economy1 hour ago (Oct 11, 2021 02:40AM ET)

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An autonomous delivery vehicle by Damo is displayed at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 8, 2021. REUTERS/Yilei Sun

LONDON (Reuters) -China has won the artificial intelligence battle with the United States and is heading towards global dominance because of its technological advances, the Pentagon’s former software chief told the Financial Times.

China, 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, according to Western intelligence assessments.

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.

“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,” he told the newspaper. “Whether it takes a war or not is kind of anecdotal.”

China was set to dominate the future of the world, controlling everything from media narratives to geopolitics, he said.

Chaillan blamed sluggish innovation, the reluctance of U.S. companies such as Google (NASDAQ:) to work with the state on AI and extensive ethical debates over the technology.

Google was not immediately available for comment outside business hours.

Chinese companies, Chaillan said, were obliged to work with their government and were making “massive investment” in AI without regard to ethics.

He said 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.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Air Force said Frank Kendall, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, had discussed with Chaillan his recommendations for the department’s future software development following his resignation and thanked him for his contributions, the FT said.

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