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Foreign Policy and Strategy Behind Artificial Intelligence

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

In these last years, security, foreign policy and strategy journals are covering extensively the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Artificial Intelligence, far from being relegated to computer and tech wonks, it is a field of study which is rapidly intersecting with security, strategy and international relations. The nations that will develop the top-notch AI sectors are doomed to dominate the future of geopolitics, due to their economic and military strenght.

Foreign policy analyst got familiar with AI in the context of US - China tech competition. In order to have a strong AI industry, nations and their high tech colossus need to have three components: vast and highly specialized pool of talent, availability of big data and computing power.

Despite China is investing vast resources on developing top-notch AI industry, it still lags behind US capabilities. US stills has the best universities related to computer science and AI and it is still superior in computing power. China, however, is catching up rapidly with big data, principally due to the vast population. 

In the military and security field, US retains a clear superiority. The US Army, in cooperation with big tech corporation, invested a lot in "Project Maven", in which for the first time AI was supposed to be deployed directly on the battlefield through drones recoinnasance capabilities.

Former undersecretary of Defense Work epitomized the use of AI in the US army in the "Third Offset Strategy".The PLA, which is still highly politicized and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, has great difficult in developing AI to be deployed in the battlefield. The PLA, far from offsetting US Army, is still catching up with the "Second Offset" technologies. 

Despite China represents a formidable threat for US tech egemony, it still lags far behind American capabilities. This, however, does not mean that US policymakers can allow themselves not to invest on the formidable offset that US enjoys against China. On the contrary, massive investments are needed in military research and cooperation between American tech giants and federal government must be ensured.

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