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The US, not China, should take the lead on AI

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) should be used as “tools of opportunity, not as weapons of oppression,” President Biden remarked recently. He’s right.

But this exhortation makes his subsequent vow to work directly with “our competitors” to harness the power of AI “for good” all the more curious. Working with our competitors, like China, would only empower the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to write the rules of the road for AI. And we don’t want China in the driver’s seat.

China is at the bleeding edge of using emerging technologies for oppression – both at home and abroad. Journalists and human-rights activists have long pointed to a state-run data system that uses AI to flag whole categories of people for detention in the western Xinjiang region.

If international cooperation requires a common vision for how the technology is used, then America and China couldn’t be further apart. (Getty images)

Elsewhere, the Chinese government is partnering with technology companies like iFlytek to develop an AI-powered voice-recognition system that can automatically identify specific voices in phone conversations. Its mass facial-recognition systems operate under standards that segment the population by eyebrow size and skin color. “Sharp Eyes,” a sweeping public-private surveillance project, employs AI to analyze peoples’ movements, associations, medical records, online behaviors and more to create an omnipresent panopticon aimed at reinforcing social control.

Jake Denton is a research associate in the Tech Policy Center at The Heritage Foundation.

Kara Frederick is the director of the Tech Policy Center at The Heritage Foundation.


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