China’s obsession with integration of AI technology in its existing systems has taken a whole new level of advancement. According to recent news, China is all set to develop its own line of automated defense which mainly consists upon AI weapons. To speed up this venture and to ensure its sustenance in the future, China has already recruited a batch of “patriotic” kids to learn the development of enhanced AI weapons.
On one hand this step is being envisioned as an attempt to secure global power stability, whereas; on the other hand it is speculated as a risky step which may entice an uncontrollable global war. Whatever may be the outcome; China is more than determined to establish its place as world leader by fortifying its defense using AI substance.
Why does China need AI weapons?
AI weapons are actually ammunition which requires minimal manual assistance in order to perform its functions. Complex AI technology is used in the development of AI weapons and China is moving full-steam towards their manufacturing. Although China has kept the need for AI weapons highly vague, we can easily foretell than it is just another attempt of China to achieve world leadership.
According to reports, the leveraging of AI technology by China is for the sake of enhancing future defense capabilities on grounds of improving mechanical intelligence and automating unmanned systems.
All about China’s AI weapons program:
China’s AI weapons program revolves around recruiting kids under or of the ages of 18 for enhanced AI weapon development.
Name and location of program:
The name of this program is portrayed as “Experimental Program for Weapons System”. Beijing Institute of Technology, also known as BIT, is where kids under the age of 18 will be trained to turn into AI weapons experts. BIT is undoubtedly one of the top weapons research institutes in China because of its active involvement in launching new AI programs aimed at the facilitation of military. BIT has received a total of 5000 applicants on its websites. Out of these applicants, 27 boys and 4 girls have been selected based on their patriotism, creativity and passion for weapons, apart from their academic distinctions.
What is China doing with these kids exactly?
The program is focused on training of kids to make them conceive AI for future designs. Two weapons scientists will be appointed for each student. These instructors will have a background in defense and academic teaching.
After a month of initial training, the students will be asked to pick a specialization of their choice within the weapons sector. After that, they will be sent to relevant weapons’ laboratories where they will be completing the 4 year training program under the guidance of AI experts who will hone their skills.
Future of recruited kids:
Once the program is finished, children can easily complete their doctorate degrees in respective fields of AI weapons specializations.
What are the Prospects of this Program?
China has been making huge attempts to turn its naval army fully autonomous. For this purpose, it has been reported to be designing a fleet of drone submarines. Chinese Air force has also taken advantage of AI by launching the details about the fully autonomous drone swarms in April 2018.
The prospects of this program also extend to the training of children to conceive the concepts of advanced AI engine designs. This will enable weaponization of forces with advanced intelligent, self-learning and automated systems. Self-learning chips for nuclear submarines and microscopic robotic swarms are of special mention here.
Program funding sources:
Chinese Government and the Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense are amongst the agencies which are funding this program.
China has expressed its desire for creating a unique system of recruiting patriotic kids for AI weapons development by submitting a proposal to the UN Group of Lethal Autonomous Weapons.
It is also being said that the knowledge gained through this program can be used in combination with biotechnologies, nanotechnology, quantum computing and robotics to build swarms and drone which could swipe out human population within seconds. Not to mention the attack accuracy offered by China’s facial recognition software.
The risks of China’s AI weapons initiative:
The harms of AI are not hidden from anyone. China’s valiance might cause her immeasurable damages because of the risks associated with AI:
AI weaponry is foretold as a medium of dual-use by AI experts. Whilst arguing about the harms and dangers of AI, the experts have shared their opinions stating the complexity of decision making AI requires every second. Any breach in ethical or technological code can cause immeasurable damages to the world within seconds.
The design of AI weapons plays an important role deciding their safety against breaches. AI experts drafted a 100 page report on dangers of AI in the past month of February. According to this report, the AI technology can be as dangerous in its vicious attacks in physical realm as it is in digital realm- all of it with just a single click of the mouse.
China’s bold attempts at AI:
China’s multi-billion industry is not new to AI. In July, China launched its brand new AI development plan which speculates establishment of an advanced AI industry. The plan has proposed $150 billion for the sake of turning the country into global “Innovation center for AI” until the coming year of 2030.
Here are is what China has been doing with AI technology until now, apart from building weapons:
AI surveillance systems:
China is well-known for its exponential growth in facial-recognition software. This AI technology is effectively being used in surveillance cameras at hotels and airports for monitoring and security purposes.
The trillion-dollar industry of AI integrated vehicles has spurred an autonomous-driving revolution in China, the consequences of which are nothing but facilitation of a massive population.
Cybersecurity and healthcare:
Apart from surveillance and automation, China is actively using AI in many other service industries- particularly in healthcare, restaurants and Cybersecurity.
AI embedded economy
China’s president Xi Jinping has warmly invited AI experts to come together with leading economists of the country in order to establish an AI embedded economy. This AI integrated economy is said to expand in various industries depending on its capabilities.
China’s message is loud and clear!
All in all, China’s various attempts at fortification of industries and national defense by leveraging AI deliver a loud and clear message of China’s determination to outclass world leaders. The Western leaders are also facing fits of anxiety, undoubtedly. We can only hope that these bold initiatives do not take their toll on innocent citizens and are used for fair means only.