Saturday, November 27, 2021 | 06:48 pm

US Must Win AI Game, Partner With Allies Like India To Embrace Tech — Experts Tell Biden Admin

US Must Win AI Game, Partner With Allies Like India To Embrace Tech — Experts Tell Biden Admin

Two years after the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) started working on how to improve America’s capabilities in new technologies like artificial intelligence, it has come out with its final report and has an “uncomfortable message” in it for the country.

“America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era. This is the tough reality we must face,” commission chair Eric Schmidt and vice-chair Robert Work said in a letter at the beginning of the report.

Schmidt had been with Google in the past, serving in different positions such as CEO, chairman, executive chairman, and technical advisor between 2001 and 2011.

Work was the 32nd US deputy secretary of defense.

In their report, the experts have said the US must win the AI game that is intensifying “strategic competition” with China, and consider partnering with allies like India to “embrace AI tech”.

The report also recommends using the Quad framework to negotiate “formal AI-related defense and intelligence cooperation agreements” with Australia, India, and Japan.

The NSCAI was set up in August 2018 as an independent commission to consider ways to advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and associated technologies “to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.”

The NSCAI 2021 report, including recommendations on how the US can embrace AI, has been submitted to US President Joe Biden and Congress as part of NSCAI duties.

How India can help the US

A letter from the NSCAI executive director Yll Bajraktari included in the report says, “From New Delhi to Tel Aviv to London, there was a willingness and desire to work with the United States to deepen cooperation on AI.”

While compiling the report, Bajraktari adds, the commission found “willingness and hope among many friends and allies” to help get its mission — “to maintain the United States’ advantage in artificial intelligence” — right.

The report also mentions Indian talent as it recommends strengthening US access to human talent in the AI field through immigration policies. Due to an increasing backlog of Green Card petitions, “Indian immigrants face a particularly long wait” that hinders both the US tech sector’s ability to recruit talent and Indian immigrant quality of life, the report notes.

It recommends building on the Quad framework to negotiate “formal AI-related defense and intelligence cooperation agreements in the Indo-Pacific region with Australia, India, and Japan, as well as with New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam.”

This can be done under existing security cooperation agreements or as a “stand-alone” exercise carried out “bilaterally or multilaterally”, the report adds.

It also recommends the US to form an “Emerging Technology Coalition (ETC)” of democratic countries. The commission adds the ETC should build on two “important dialogues” the commission has previously recommended, one of which is the US-India Strategic Tech Alliance.

The report said India’s involvement “should also be prioritized” as the US sets up a Multilateral AI Research Institute (MAIRI) that the commission recommends.

The importance of AI

The letter from Schmidt and Work at the beginning of the report says AI “will be the most powerful tool in generations for benefitting humanity”. The two add that AI scientific breakthroughs made in medicine, biology, and astrophysics “are not science fair experiments; they are improving life…”.

The two also say AI will be used “in the pursuit of power”.

“We fear AI tools will be weapons of first resort in future conflicts”, they say, adding state adversaries already use AI-based “disinformation attacks to sow division in democracies and jar our sense of reality”.

The executive summary of the report adds there is no “comfortable historical reference” that shows the impact AI will have on national security.

The summary says a computer’s ability to solve problems and perform tasks, sometimes better than a human, is rapidly improving. Because of this, AI technologies will be a source of “enormous power” to companies and countries that harness the technologies.

US concerns about China

The executive summary adds that AI is increasing America’s vulnerability to threats: “For the first time since World War II, America’s technological predominance — the backbone of its economic and military power — is under threat.”

China seems to be the commission’s foremost concern as the summary continues that it has the “might, talent, and ambition to surpass the United States as the world’s leader in AI in the next decade if current trends do not change”.

In addition, the summary says AI is increasing the threat of cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns by “Russia, China, and others” to steal the US’ data and interfere in its democracy.

Schmidt and Work in their letter say the US should therefore embrace competition in the use of AI because that “will speed up innovation”.

“…we must win the AI competition that is intensifying strategic competition with China,” Schmidt and Work say as they consider China to be an “AI peer in many areas and an AI leader in some applications”.