GT Voice: How will US weaponize AI for its technological hegemony?
Published: Jul 19, 2023 10:33 PM
AI Photo:VCG

AI Photo:VCG

The UN Security Council on Tuesday for the first time held a session on the risks that artificial intelligence (AI) poses to the world, the latest evidence that regulating the development of AI has become a universal concern. While discussions of AI development norms are necessary, whether for the international community or any country, it is still disturbing to see the inclination of AI weaponization in some discussions among US lawmakers.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who introduced AI legislation last month, said in a recent speech that "If we don't program these algorithms to align with our values, they could be used to undermine our democratic foundations ... The Chinese Communist Party ... could leap ahead of us and set the rules of the game for AI. Democracy could enter an era of steep decline."

Experience has made it clear that whenever US politicians associate some issues with values, it is always in a way that is distorted and adheres to a zero-sum game, bringing chaos and uncertainty to all concerned. Unfortunately, AI may have just become a new front in Washington's tech war against China. In fact, the US attempt to take control of AI is still fixated on keeping global markets and capital firmly in American hands.

In addition to the Congressional legislation efforts, the Biden administration is also reportedly preparing to restrict Chinese companies' access to US cloud-computing services, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. The move may curb Chinese customers' ability to use AI-related services from US companies.

Apparently, AI won't be exempted from the US technological competition with and crackdown on China. The US wants to maintain its dominance in almost all high-tech fields and is willing to contain China's technological development by means of suppression, just like it has been doing in the chip war. 

Such hostility in technological competition is an obvious cause for worry, especially when governments around the world are facing challenges as to how to use and regulate AI as well as balance its development and security risks.

Just look at what Washington has been doing in terms of chip suppression related to China, and it is not hard to imagine what norms and rules the Biden administration could be plotting in a political environment where AI is seen as an important weapon in ensuring US technological hegemony.

If the US abuses AI rule-making as a weapon against China, it will be a disaster for global AI development. There is much unknown about the specific trends and paths of AI development. Under such circumstances, if the US insists on introducing geopolitical factors, then future AI development will certainly face a split, which means two systems and development directions, bringing more confusion and jeopardizing AI global governance.

Another implication of the US maintaining its scientific and technological dominance and hegemony is that the high-tech development of developing countries will be under US control and bullying.

In high-tech fields like AI, if some countries maliciously obstruct the technological development of other countries, and artificially create technological barriers, they are actually undermining the rights and interests of developing countries to seek open cooperation. To prevent such a scenario, the rules of global AI governance must first ensure fairness for the development of developing countries.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, proposed at the Tuesday Security Council meeting that five principles must be adhered to when it comes to guiding principles for AI governance - putting ethics first, adhering to safety and controllability, fairness and inclusiveness, openness and cooperativeness, and committed to peaceful utilization. 

In stark contrast to what US politicians have emphasized in AI governance, these principles deserve the attention of the international community.