The AI Column: Time For A Moral Reckoning Down In Silicon Valley
The recent revelation that China’s security services had successfully compromised the servers of thousands of leading tech’ firms cloud computing platforms has sent shockwaves through the tech world. The hardware hack may have compromised some of the most sensitive computer systems used by the military and intelligence services. While the scope and sophistication of the operations were alarming, it was no surprise to some in national security circles.
This reckoning was a long time coming.
For years, China has leveraged its intelligence services to engage in large-scale theft of intellectual property from firms around the world. Counter-intelligence experts say that Silicon Valley is now a prime battleground for Chinese spies and spy catchers.
While the tech giants have grumbled, their complaints have been measured. China has the world’s largest population and will soon boast of the largest economy. No multinational corporation wants to antagonize what will soon be the largest market on Earth. While cheap labor initially drew American firms there, the prospect of keeping a foothold in this market kept them there.
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The emerging field of artificial intelligence may change this landscape further. China has declared that they want to lead the world AI and have made huge investments to that end. Some of their leading scientists were taught in the U.S. and many of their start-ups are funded by American venture capital.
While the AI race has been compared to the space race of the 1960s, this competition will include private tech firms like Apple and Google, who spend more on research and development than government agencies like DARPA. Leveraging the investments made by China and getting access to their massive data troves could give these firms a …read more
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