The alternative space race

Back in the last century we had the USA / USSR space race. It was the potential threat of military space dominance which kicked the whole thing off with the launch of the Sputnik satellite back in 1957.

So what is the alternative space race? Again its between two, maybe three nations and it’s a race for supremacy in a particular field. One which could be military, commercial or benign in nature. It’s the race for AI supremacy between China and America and possibly Russia too.

China is really forging ahead with AI. It isn’t hamstrung like the West in terms of privacy policies, additionally there are very blurred lines between state and industry. It can pursue massive big data projects such as in health screening where the state has unlimited access to all records. Facial recognition cannot be challenged in terms of human rights and privacy laws.

The blurred lines I referred to are characterised by Chinese companies such as Huawei and Hikvision. They have been cited as potential security threats in so far as their products could allow for remote snooping.

China has announced news-reading robots, an AI strategy for foreign relations but the most worrying to the US are their aims to use AI in the military.

Some of the political tension between the US and China in the current trade wars isn’t just about the IP infringements or dumping issues and ‘unfair’ practices, it’s also about AI supremacy.

As Washington adopts a more nationalist agenda it is feared that foreign students, many of them Chinese, may choose to do research elsewhere, the very research which has bolstered US technology in the past.

It’s a very fine line in being protectionist and being at the forefront of AI research.

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