Since the introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence driven large language model that provides human-like responses to inquiries, the realm of AI has become a focal point in the race for advanced technology. The business sector is the primary arena where conflict is prominently occurring. Microsoft, a prominent technology company, has extended its partnership with OpenAI through a significant investment of $10 billion. As a result, Microsoft has expeditiously incorporated a more potent OpenAI tool into its Bing search engine, intending to compete against the dominant internet search platform, Google.
However, AI has gained prominence in various fields, including commerce. AI appears to have rapidly emerged and gained significance in the economic realm. The potential impact of technology on geopolitical contests, specifically in the political and military domains, is comparable to its implications for business endeavors.
The ongoing competition among major powers for supremacy in AI is a well-established fact. The increasing significance of AI intersects with the intensification of tensions between the United States and China, and the worldwide movement against globalization to generate a novel and potentially less stable geopolitical environment, despite its emphasis on military and strategic affairs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a significant factor in domestic politics. The tool mentioned above has been referred to as a “super weapon” and has demonstrated substantial efficacy in its ability to target voters. Political consultants in the United States are exploring the potential of AI to enhance the process of seeking political contributions and optimize message-crafting and other strategic approaches. AI is poised to assume an increasingly significant role in the propagation of disinformation campaigns, which have already demonstrated their capacity to influence democratic elections.
In addition to its impact on electoral politics, AI alters the geopolitical landscape, resulting in significant consequences.
The West’s endeavors to surpass China in AI, coupled with the trend towards deglobalization expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have the potential to alter the global economic landscape fundamentally. Like the mid-20th century’s power competition surrounding nuclear weapons and aerospace technology, AI is emerging as a significant battleground in 21st-century great power competition. The West was alarmed by the Soviet Union’s advancements in space travel, and now, AI is the new frontier for competition among major global powers.
China’s apparent early dominance in AI has caused concern among Western analysts, resulting in various responses, including apprehension and countermeasures.
According to reports, Chinese President Xi Jinping prioritized advancing AI as a key element of his strategic agenda years ago. He believed that China’s ability to compete with the West in economic and military domains would be contingent on its leadership in this field. Chinese authorities have publicly refuted the concept of being involved in an AI arms race. China is reportedly engaged in developing military applications for AI and exporting AI-based surveillance systems and drone technology.
China is doing this because AI is directly relevant to military conflict, as it has the potential to transform warfare and change the balance of power between nations. AI can be used to develop autonomous weapons systems without human intervention. Furthermore, AI can also be used to enhance the speed and accuracy of military operations. This ultimately gives an advantage to countries with access to advanced AI technology, potentially leading to an arms race in AI development.
Policymakers in the United States have been making concerted efforts to promote domestic manufacturing and research and development of technology, particularly high-end microchips utilized in AI. Concurrently, they have been endeavoring to prevent China from leveraging Western expertise to enhance and augment its progress in AI. The urgency of these efforts has been on the rise.
Before the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, the US struggled to contain China’s potential military threat. Washington was adamant about fostering trade ties with China while attempting to contain the country’s military resurgence. However, the emphasis on AI is increasingly converging with the idea that trade is not necessarily a win-win situation, which certain powerful voices hold. Instead, it can result in winners and losers, sometimes with strategic repercussions.
Consider that the administration of former President Barack Obama fought to block the sale of Intel’s expensive Xeon chips to the Chinese military, including the National University of Defense Technology, in the past. However, China’s governmental and private sectors are frequently intertwined, and Beijing often creates front businesses that pretend to be in the private sector to get around such restrictions. Therefore, it was difficult for export limitations to prevent the Chinese military from gaining access to advanced semiconductors.
Efforts to protect global commerce while imposing restrictions on military technology have proven unsuccessful, coinciding with escalated tensions with China and an increased focus on “near-shoring” to relocate manufacturing and trade closer to the US borders. The outcome has led to a broader prohibition on significant technology exports to China, irrespective of the purchasers being either privately owned entities or state-controlled companies with defense-related affiliations.
In the previous year, the administration of US President Joe Biden implemented a policy with a particular emphasis on AI, which involved prohibiting the sale of high-end chips to any entity located in China. The sale of high-end AI chips that incorporate any U.S.-origin component, which encompasses the entirety of such chips, to the Chinese military, Chinese technology firms, and even American companies operating within China, has been rendered unlawful. In the past, this would have been considered implausible.
At present, we find ourselves at the juncture of three significant developments: the ascension of AI, the waning of global interconnectedness, and the amplification of the competition between China and Western nations.
All three have a long history of construction. Some estimates placed the peak year of globalization in 2008. The development of AI has been ongoing for more than 50 years, and the competition between the United States and China is scarcely a recent phenomenon. All of these developments, however, have picked up speed recently. Asking ChatGPT about how AI would affect international disputes at this point would be irresponsible. The chatbot listed several possibilities before stating that it “will depend on how it’s developed and deployed” and then gave some guidance, advising that AI development and use be “guided by ethical and legal principles, to prevent unintended consequences and ensure that it benefits humanity as a whole.” We might remark that doing it might be more complicated than improving the internet search engine.
Leave a Reply