Billionaire AI prodigy warns of China’s ambitions: ‘AI is China’s Apollo Project’

Scale AI CEO Alexandr Wang, a 26-year-old self-made billionaire who is working with the Pentagon to adopt artificial intelligence technology, issued a dire warning to lawmakers on Tuesday that the US could fall behind China in developing AI and that it is the communist nation’s Apollo Project.

(Video Credit: CNBC Television)

Wang stated that China is spending three times as much as the United States on AI and is quickly outpacing us on the technological frontier.

“The country that is able to most rapidly and effectively integrate new technology into warfighting wins. If we don’t win on AI, we risk ceding global influence, technology leadership, and democracy to strategic adversaries like China,” Wang told the members of the House Armed Services Committee.

“The Chinese Communist Party deeply understands the potential for AI to disrupt warfare and is investing to heavily capitalize on the opportunity,” he grimly informed the panel.

He also has concerns that China’s People’s Liberation Army is investing in adaptive radar systems that jam sensors and blind information networks.

“We’re now embarking on a new era of the world, one in which a new technology, artificial intelligence, is likely to set the stage for the future of ideologies, the balance of global power, and the future of the relative peace of our world,” Wang said at the hearing.

Wang is the son of two scientists who worked as nuclear physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He began his company in 2016 when he was 19 after he dropped out of MIT. Scale AI is valued at over $7 billion.

Wang visited China four years ago and saw first-hand the scale of the country’s global ambitions while he was there.

“China was making rapid progress developing AI technologies like facial recognition and computer vision and using these for domestic surveillance and repression,” he testified in front of the committee. “China is investing the full power of its industrial base for AI.”

(Video Credit: TED)

“This year, they’re on track to spend roughly three times the US government on AI,” he noted. “The PLA is also heavily investing in AI-enabled autonomous drone swarms, adaptive radar systems, autonomous vehicles, and China has launched over 79 large language models since 2020. AI is China’s Apollo Project.

Wang believes the US still has an edge over China currently. He believes that America is still the “place of choice” for the world’s most talented AI scientists and that our access to data is an advantage. But China will surpass us if we don’t move quickly to stop them.

“When it comes to data, I actually also agree that we have a potential very powerful advantage here, specifically when it pertains to military implementations,” he commented. “In America, we have the largest fleet of military hardware in the world.”

Wang commented that the fleet generates 22 terabytes of data every day. That is data that can be harnessed to train AI and give America an “insurmountable data advantage when it comes to military use of artificial intelligence.”

“Wang did say, however, that the U.S. needs to take rapid steps to ensure it takes advantage of this oversupply of data. He said collecting data is a new reality that the Pentagon must adapt to if it’s going to stay ahead on AI, and that processes need to be put in place so this data can be collected and turned into ‘AI-ready data sets,'” Fox News reported.

The young AI prodigy has the ear of military leaders and politicians.

“I think this is one of the most important things that we can do to set up America for decades and decades of leadership in military use of AI,” Wang stated.

“Every service, every group, every program needs to be thinking about how… all of the data that their programs are collecting and that are being generated within their purview, how can they ensure that all this data flows through into one central data repository, and then are prepared and tagged and labeled for AI-ready use down the line,” he advised.

He insisted that China cannot be ignored and said it was not a possibility that the US and China could work together on AI. Both would feel threatened by each other’s AI systems.

“I think it would be a stretch to say we’re on the same team on this issue,” Wang said, pointing out that China’s first instinct was to use AI for facial recognition systems in order to control its people. “I expect them to use modern AI technologies in the same way to the degree that they can, and that seems to be the immediate priority of the Chinese Communist Party when it comes to implementation of AI.”

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