Nicolas Chaillan, the former Chief Software Officer of the Pentagon, is on a massive press tour to deflect from his radical assertion that the US has lost the AI race with China.
Speaking to the Financial Times in his first interview after leaving his post at the Pentagon, Chaillan said:
We have no competitive chance against China for another 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s a done deal.
Chaillan’s departure from the Pentagon was preceded by a “blister letter,” where he signaled he was escaping frustration over the government’s inability to properly deploy cybersecurity and artificial intelligence technologies. create.
And, now, he’s telling anyone listening that America has lost a war with China that hasn’t even happened yet. He’s basically saying that America is a sitting duck who ensures safety and sanctity based on the fact that China is choosing not to attack and destroy us.
And, let’s be clear, Chaillan is not talking about a hot war. According to the FT article, he said “whether there was some kind of war going on is an anecdote.”
This is what you call propaganda.
The idea that the US is losing any kind of AI race to China is ridiculous
Chaillan’s wrath is purely performance
Score: It doesn’t matter how you measure things, the US doesn’t lose to China in the AI race.
Among China’s top AI companies, you’ll find Baidu, a business with a market capitalization of around $55 billion.
Let’s put that into perspective. Google is worth over a trillion dollars. That number is 18 times that of Baidu. And that’s just Google. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are also worth a trillion and they are also AI companies.
There is no measure, including talent acquisition and lab size, by which you can say that China is even in the same category when it comes to AI companies.
And when it comes to AI research from universities, the US once again leads the world by big profits.
The United States not only attracts students from all over the world, but also has some of the world’s most advanced AI programs at the university level. Between cognitive research done at places like NYU and Harvard and machine learning applications to engineering invented at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and their ilk, it’s hard to argue that academic research by China outperforms the US’.
That’s not to denigrate the great work being done by researchers in China, but there’s certainly no reason to believe that China will overtake the West in the short term thanks to its prowess. their absolute academics.
And that leaves only AI in the public and military sectors. What’s interesting about China is that, nationally, its government is more supportive of AI research than any other country.
Many experts argue that China’s large investments in public sector research, combined with an authoritarian approach to controlling what the public sector and academia do, could lead to a situation where China goes before America.
However, this is just a guess. The reality is that American companies don’t need government investments. Unlike the US government, Amazon is not heavily indebted to its shareholders. Amazon is one of the most profitable businesses in human history.
And there’s no law that says Amazon has to work with the US government. You can comfortably continue to make money through your fist and push the philosophical limits of what wealth is or how economies work whether it chooses to play ball with the Pentagon or not.
The problem is this: In China, all research is military research.
The FT article makes it clear that Chaillan’s real problem is with democracy:
He also blamed Google’s reluctance to work with the US Department of Defense on AI and widespread debates over AI ethics for slowing the US down. In contrast, he said Chinese companies have an obligation to cooperate with Beijing and are making “big investments” in AI without regard for ethical concerns.
In some oddities, “give up your liberties for a better way,” his words can mean something. Except for one thing: one major player in the global AI game we haven’t talked about is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known by the acronym DARPA.
DARPA is the US government’s version of the lead Q lab in the James Bond universe. It is always looking for technologies – literally any technology, no matter how strange or unlikely – to exploit for military use.
But there is nothing fictional about DARPA or its work. DARPA or a similarly reformed successor to DARPA is the financial focus of thousands of thousands of university research and technology projects in the United States each year.
On point: DARPA literally invented the internet, GPS, and graphical user interfaces.
I mention all of this to point out that there is no area where you can say that the US doesn’t lead the world in AI. I’m not saying that as a patriot (disclosure: I’m a US citizen living abroad and a US Navy veteran). I say that because it is unequivocally correct.
To be fair, Chaillan has clarified his words since the FT article. On LinkedIn, he writes:
For those who have seen this article, I want to make one thing clear. I never said we lost. I said so and if we don’t wake up NOW we won’t have a fighting chance to win against China for another 15 years. I also said that they are leading in AI and Cyber NOW. Not in 10 years as some reports mention.
Of course 750 page government sponsored reports always tell us we have more time than we have so no one should be held responsible for missing the overdue target.
That’s just common sense. We’re competing with 1.5 billion folks here. Either we are smarter and more agile or we lose. Stage = Stage.
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, okay? According to the FT article:
We have no competitive chance against China for another 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s done; It’s over in my opinion,” he said, adding there was “good reason to be angry”.
The key point is Chaillan’s widespread propaganda. He’s using a centuries-old racist warrior known as “China Bogeyman.” The US has used it for decades to justify its bloated defense budget to the public.
The idea is that US citizens should fear China not because of its academic, economic, or military technology. But the reality is that there are 1.5 billion people in that country who are not Americans.
Chaillan is using China Bogeyman and his former positions as IT boss for the Air Force and Pentagon as a political tool. Whether his goal is to run for office or secure a prestigious consulting position at a conservative-leaning organization, it’s clear what the purpose of Chaillan’s outlandish claims is: to pressure the public believe their safety relies on doing whatever it takes to stay in control. from the impending threat posed by the existence of 1.5 billion people in China.
It is a baseless argument against the development of ethical AI and policies that restrict the United States from creating and using harmful AI technologies.