According to the chairman of the Defense Innovation Board, yes, that’s a distinct possibility.
Just a few weeks ago the Chinese government announced its plans to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into everything from agriculture to public security. And now, it’s got others worried.
“It’s pretty simple. By 2020, they will have caught up; by 2025, they will be better than us; and by 2030, they will dominate the industries of AI,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. at the Center for New American Security’s Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit.
As it stands currently, unlike China, the United States has no AI strategy. It doesn’t even put basic AI research at the top of its priority for funding.
“We need to get our act together as a country,” said Schmidt. “America is the country that leads in these areas; there is every reason we can continue that leadership.”
Schmidt also suggests that as well as investing more in the likes of AI, the United States should be reconsidering its immigration policy which may be barring talented individuals from gaining entry into the country.
“Iran produces some of the smartest and top computer scientists in the world. Would you rather have them building AI somewhere else or would you rather have them building it here?”, Schmidt asks.
Various recommendations have been made to the Pentagon from the Defense Innovation Board in regards to accelerating the integration of AI into a nationwide policy. “One of the most important points is the military is not leading in AI,” states Schmidt.
“The problem is everybody can understand something, but they cannot collectively act. [That] is the sort of core governance problem, so you have to come up with ways for them to be able to get the resources.”
Just because Schmidt is suggesting to use the military as leaders in AI, doesn’t mean to say it will involve deadly weapons being controlled by machines. “In peacetime, and really in wartime, what do our men and women do mostly? They mostly watch things,” he said.
“We have this whole tradition of military standing watch… as if that is a good use of human beings.” Instead, doesn’t it make more sense to have computers monitor the situation and alert humans to a problem if and when it occurs?
“The important thing about AI is not that AI will be like us, it’s that AI is different than us. The best uses of AI will be in human and AI collaboration of one kind or another,” said Schmidt.