China ahead of U.S. in Artificial Intelligence: Pentagon's ex-official

A robot watering the plant in China

A robot watering the plant in China

China has won the artificial intelligence battle with the United States and is heading towards global dominance, Pentagon’s former software chief, Nicolas Chaillan has told the Financial Times.

China, the world’s second largest economy, is forging ahead with technological advances.

Western intelligence assessments believe the country is likely to dominate many of the key emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics within a decade or so.

Chaillan, the Pentagon’s first chief software officer who resigned in protest against the slow pace of technological transformation in the U.S. military, said the failure to respond was putting the United States at risk.

A delivery vehicle powered by AI made in China
A delivery vehicle powered by AI made in China. Reuters photo

“We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion,” he told the newspaper.

“Whether it takes a war or not is kind of anecdotal.”

China was set to dominate the future of the world, controlling everything from media narratives to geopolitics, he said.

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Chaillan blamed sluggish innovation, the reluctance of U.S. companies such as Google to work with the state on AI and extensive ethical debates over the technology.

Chinese companies, Chaillan said, were obliged to work with their government and were making “massive investment” in AI without regard to ethics.

He said U.S. cyber defences in some government departments were at “kindergarten level”.

Chaillan announced his resignation at the beginning of September, saying military officials were repeatedly put in charge of cyber initiatives for which they lacked experience.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Air Force said Frank Kendall, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, had discussed with Chaillan his recommendations for the department’s future software development following his resignation.

Kendall also thanked him for his contributions, the FT said.