Why an AI arms race with China would be bad for humanity


In a provocative op-ed in the New York Times last week, PayPal and Palantir founder Peter Thiel argued that artificial intelligence is "a military technology." So, he asks, why are companies like Google and Microsoft, which have opened research labs in China to recruit Chinese researchers for their cutting-edge AI research, "sharing it with a rival"? Thiel's op-ed caused a big splash in the AI community and frustrated experts in both AI and US-China relations. An outspoken Trump backer, Thiel has been a leading voice pushing for tech to be more aligned with what he sees as America's defense interests -- and his messages have been influential among conservative intellectuals. Critics pointed out that Thiel had failed to disclose that his company, Palantir, has defense contracts with the US government totaling more than $1 billion, and that he might benefit from portraying AI as a military technology (a characterization of AI that experts dispute).