AI: China vs. U.S.

Why didn’t communist Russia thrive? There are countless components to the answer to this but one fundamental component is that state pride will never motivate to the same degree as freedom. Freedom us the ultimate genie. It grants wishes, allows for dreams to come true, and it absolutely can never be put back in the bottle. Freedom is the only end state that humanity can thrive in. That is why regardless of how much money and resources China puts into developing its technology and infrastructure it is all built on a house of cards because they have an inevitable revolution coming. A transition to personal freedom. No country can last indefinitely when its neighbors enjoy freedoms that its citizens do not.

This demand for freedom can be offset by personal security and support for a time, but a simple observation of where people are trying to leave, and where people are trying to go, shows a clear picture of the type of nation citizens desire most. By and large the world is progressing towards the freedom model. Anywhere there is a barrier with free citizens on one side and oppressed on the other people are only flowing one direction.

So how does this apply to AI? China has a fighting chance to be the first country to produce whatever the first emergence of Artificial General Intelligence is going to be. If this concept is one you are unfamiliar with here is a great into to the concept. China is putting massive amounts of resources towards this goal and are making it a priority on a national level. More so than any other country. China also does not opensource or declare the progress that it is making openly so it is difficult to assess where they are in the creation process.

It is not exactly clear what kind of advantage AGI will offer but there is no doubt that it will be significant and potentially change the world on a larger scale than the emergence of the Internet has. So what kind of actions will they take? How will they leverage this advantage and most importantly how will this impact their citizens? China’s citizens do not have freedom. They do not have free access to travel. They do not have freedom of expression. And they most definitely do not have free access to technology like Google and Twitter. How will this look if a country of 1.4 billion has control of an AGI while the general population does not even have internet access?

More significantly, will the underpinnings of the AGI developed in China have different constraints? A huge multinational discussion is happening around what kind of ethics and intent should be woven into AGI as it is being created. The consensus is that the best and safest strategy for AGI is one where it is open sourced and priority is given to align it with humanities best interest. “Best interests” is incredibly ambiguous but a totalitarian and oppressive government construct is obviously not it. Individual freedom is in my opinion the ultimate expression of humanities best interests. So how will individual freedom factor into the way these systems are designed and used? If China develops an AGI with personal liberty as an underpinning ethic it seems inevitable that they will have created the instrument of their own progression thus dis empowering the control of the state) . The alternative would be that they develop AGI with a focus on enforcing the power of the state. I am not sure if this could be considered “general” as it would be weaponized from inception. General Intelligence implies the capability of self thought and direction and the only intent of an oppressive controlling state is control. Creating an intelligence based on this seems akin to creating a digital dictator. What if the first iterations of this were to enforce the social value program that China is deploying? What if that program begins to place value on humans and realizes that the cost/value is upside down and so declares humans have no value? If the program was attempting to optimize the health of the environment it would be accurate to identify humanity as the root problem.

These questions will find their answers as the pursuit of AGI accelerates and ultimately comes to fruition. A few things are guaranteed. It will definitely emerge in some form because no component of the design is impractical. That is simply the nature of technological progress, but whether it will become a great world unity builder or spark a new “arms” race remains to be scene? Not and arms race in the traditional weaponry sense of the word, but more from the perspective that AGI will be a game changing competitive advantage. Make no mistake this advantage could overshadow anything ever feared from the nuclear arms race. I am hoping this international competition follows the pattern of the space race instead of the nuclear arms race. Granted the nuclear race seems to have resulted in a fragile but functional form of world peace but the space race was the beginning of the biggest international collaboration of the worlds greatest minds and people. An unprecedented cooperative effort that has yielded incalculable benefits for humanity and continues to set the standard for global efforts for good. If any tool is in the pipeline to compound the success of this global ideal AGI is it.

I guess time will tell.

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