FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned about the national security threat posed by Beijing’s AI program.
During a panel at the World Economic Forum, Wray explained that Beijing’s AI program “is not constrained by the rule of law”.
Wray says Beijing has “a bigger hacking program than any other nation” and will use machine learning to further boost the capabilities of its state-sponsored hackers.
Much like nuclear expertise, AI can be used to benefit the world or harm it.
“I have the same reaction every time,” Wray explained. “I think, ‘Wow, we can do that.’ And then, ‘Oh god, they can do that.’”
Beijing is often accused of influencing other countries through its infrastructure investments. Washington largely views China’s expanding economic influence and military might as America’s main long-term security challenge.
Wray says that Beijing’s AI program “is built on top of the massive troves of intellectual property and sensitive data that they’ve stolen over the years.”
Furthermore, it will be used “to advance that same intellectual property theft, to advance the repression that occurs not just back home in mainland China but increasingly as a product they export around the world.”
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince spoke on the same panel and offered a more positive take: “The thing that makes me optimistic in this space: there are more good guys than bad guys.”
Prince acknowledges that whoever has the most data will win the AI race. Western data collection protections have historically been much stricter than in China.
“In a world where all these technologies are available to both the good guys and the bad guys, the good guys are constrained by the rule of law and international norms,” Wray added. “The bad guys aren’t, which you could argue gives them a competitive advantage.”
Prince and Wray say it’s the cooperation of the “good guys” that gives them the best chance at staying a step ahead of those wishing to cause harm.
“When we’re all working together, they’re no match,” concludes Wray.
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