Why the U.S. Needs a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Why the U.S. Needs a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy
A signage of artificial intelligence at the stand of Xiaomi during the 2018 China Mobile Global Partner Conference in Guangzhou city, China, Dec. 7, 2018 (Photo by Li Zhihao for Imaginechina via AP Images).

Great-power competition is back. But for all the focus on countries like the United States and China building up their militaries, consolidating resources and leveraging industrial productivity, science and technology to boost their influence, another area of competition is emerging: artificial intelligence. Is China already outpacing the United States there?

Artificial intelligence carries enormous promise, both economically and militarily. For already developed economies, including America’s, artificial intelligence could lead to the likes of automated supply chains and increased worker productivity through automating routine business tasks. Similar impacts are predicted for the military—with new levels of intelligence and automation in everything from command and control systems to armed drones, all of which would enhance existing capabilities and operations.

Of course, these changes won’t come overnight, and they won’t come without their ethical and legal challenges. For one thing, artificially intelligent algorithms are not immune to bias that reflects prejudices and decision-making flaws in the real world, and lethal autonomous weapons raise a number of legal questions about decisions to use deadly force.

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