Has USA already lost the battle for AI Supremacy and Quantum to China…
It is China’s stated national policy to become the global science and technology SuperPower!
It is intriguing how the US and China trade war is playing out in the media as the door closes on many aspects of China’s participation in the US economy, academia and activities related to Big Tech US companies. Many believe it is a smoke screen for limiting the brain drain that has been going on for decades as the brightest Chinese students learn much and take this knowledge to start serious competition to US big tech back home.
Last week Google announce they have reached Quantum Supremacy, that IBM also questions the Quantum community remains skeptical of the claim and the measurement to support it. They are fierce competitors and will always draw attention, while China who leads the way in AI, keeps their head down and file more Quantum patents.
According to Patinformatics: there were 492 quantum patents filed in China in 2018, more than the USA (248), Japan (30), Korea (45) and the European Union (31) combined.
As Fake News and disinformation escalates we have entered the realm of radical transparency through social media that tells us absolutely nothing. As AI starts to dominate the near horizon what will be the role of humankind and how does one keeps secrets, not just national secrets but any secret?
The US is feeling more than the heat of just tech competition…
But one has to ask is this a propaganda war from the US to convince the world or themselves they remain ahead. The US are deeply concerned as the Center for a New American Security reports 2018 suggests, as they try to make sense of whether or not China has the advantage. Whilst the authors of the report don’t share specific data on what the US are doing to close the Quantum AI gap, the report is sufficient evidence there are a lot of concerned people in Washington DC.
It is China’s national state policy and government backed strategy, the world not just the US have ignored, is China intends to become a Science and Technology SuperPower! Coupled with the other complexity is in China the military and civil strategies are aligned and are intertwined, where in the west it largely remains fragmented, behind closed doors and shrouded in mystery.
The issue here is Big Tech in the US, Google, IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Apple as public companies with shareholders are not so easy to influence, as they sell IP globally. Hence more reliance on DARPA and other branches of government and civil servants to come up with answers, that history has shown to be slow and cumbersome. And why Quantum computing companies in the west are being black boxed as a matter of national security.
Let us not forget the national stated policy of China.
“Made in China when it comes to tech, much like its capital, means remaining in China”.
China have already demonstrated Quantum advantages, let’s not call it superiority at this stage. In Quantum radar, imagery, sensing, metrology and navigation which suggests nobody will be them coming, even from space based satellite observations, if they decide to make a move. Given most military defensive systems and strategies are geared for detection, the west would be blind. And China and other nation states know this. They also know our political systems that focus on squabbling and not on important future policy, is a perfect storm for those focused on the objective. Like Artificial Intelligence, when the objective is set there is no deviation, change or substitution. The objective is the objective.
The cornerstone of any military strategy in intelligence. So what happens when the ‘lights go out’ because in a Quantum world it stops? As espionage is redefined in Quantum terms, you either have the key or you don’t. Like the ‘fog of war’ knowing where the enemy is and what they are doing is tricky to navigate and second guess.
The very basis of Quantum is a two sided opportunity, to be first to crack current forms of encryption — to listen, learn and find out for competitive advantage, and to make everything quantum safe using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) ensuring no communications can be penetrated.
Sort of gives new meaning to spying, eaves dropping and surveillance, making far harder to impossible unless you have the right Quantum key that is…
As reported in the article:
“Against the backdrop of a broader campaign to enhance national cyber security, Chinese leaders seem to hope that shifting sensitive information and communications to quantum networks could allow the “shield” of quantum cryptography to mitigate vulnerability to adversary cyber espionage and signals intelligence capabilities.”
Who are they really…
But of course the challenge remains identifying the important companies in the Quantum realm that really matter, as much depends on whether or not they are ‘state sponsored’ or apparently free enterprise. Although increasingly to control the IP and limit how the tech is deployed, everything is all of a sudden a matter of national security. And whilst the US may complain China takes advantage of state run programs, it is difficult to deny the US, UK and other nation states have similar cloaked investment programs.
There is no doubt all governments are piling cash into Quantum. Our very own UK programs already committing £1.5billion in funding, with the belief they will gain strategic advantages by being able to crack encryption that can deliver for national security and protect national interests. I am sure GCHQ Ould be delighted to get there first. One can feel the nervousness of all governments as they strive for actual AI Supremacy that is driven by Quantum coupled with AI, more than just a chaser to get one feeling dizzy. Despite the risk of triggering SuperIntelligence, that no nation state may pull back from.
The west needs a response…
The problem with the west is the short term strategies to the next election, with few that transcend governments to support the national interest.The main issue is the two party political systems of the US and UK that focus on dismantling each others strategies handing the advantage to others who have a long term strategy, such as China.
“China’s increasing prioritisation of quantum science is best reflected by its inclusion in and promotion through a series of national science and technology plans and programs.”
China’s Propaganda makes interesting reading
As reported in the main paper.
“Scientists are beginning to control the quantum world; this will greatly promote the development of information, energy, and materials sciences, bringing about a new industrial revolution.” — Xi Jinping, General Secretary, Chinese Communist Party and President, People’s Republic of China
And of course they have several of the leading Quantum scientists including Jian-Wei Pan, a researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China who has been dubbed “the father of quantum”.
The difference seems to be the sheer scale of China’s ambition must be applauded, the funding and the number of clever people deployed to support the vision of a nation. One of the benefits of a single party approach of course is the ship can be steered to hold a long term course.
Who really has Bragging Rights…
Are we entering an era where the rules of military engagement, cyber security and hacking and misinformation are being re-defined. The answer is of course yes. Is it possible all sides are overstating their potential, again yes, but it is also my belief they are understating their positions massively.
I have spoken to several Quantum companies in stealth mode and met others and there is no doubt Google and IBM are not the leaders in this field. There are approximately 100,000 of the smartest people on the planet now working on Quantum and Quantum AI…with the majority knowingly concerned about the direction of travel, as national interests will take pole position over doing what is right for humankind.
As Elon Musk said “Al is more dangerous than nuclear missiles” I tend to agree with him. The race for AI and Quantum Supremacy between the US and China may take us down a dystopian path, as the new espionage focus that will help AI joins the dots to reach SuperIntelligence. Remembering in a single short period of WWII we went from bi-planes to fast single seaters, to massive bombers to key engine missiles and planes in 5 or 6 years, in a world without computers.
The issue for me is the rate of learning within Artificial Intelligence as the time between Alpha Go and Zero indicated. We have enter the realms of ‘progeny’ where we are not sure where the code is deployed as humans are unable to understand it?
As Stephen Hawking famously said: “AI will end humanity” and others are coming forward with similar concerns.
Author: Nick Ayton
Nick has a background in computer science and is a futurist. He has written a TV Mini Series, the first also funded by crypto, that follows cryptographers that make a discovery that advanced computer science 30 years. Season 1 is set against the existential threat of AI where there are many concerned about where this technology is heading.
It is a before the event statement that explains what is likely to happen, where the Big Short explained what almost brought down the entire financial system, as an after the event film.
The teaser is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf1jFPwMmuw And the pilot episode is rebased end Nov/Dec 2019.