Fall weather is approaching, but CSET is still bringing the heat, with media seeking out our researchers for their expertise. This month they discuss AI accidents, China’s S&T developments, machine learning’s influence in cybersecurity, and more.
Breaking Defense spoke with Research Analyst Dakota Cary about the implications of China’s new Data Security Law and the enforcement of its cyber vulnerability disclosure provisions. “It puts [China’s] Ministry of State Security, which conducts nation-state hacking and espionage, in a position to evaluate software vulnerabilities and turn those into operational tools so that they can hack other nations. That creates a window of opportunity for state hackers to exploit what they know is vulnerable software before that software can be repaired,” Cary said.
And “Headline or Trend Line?,” a report by Margarita Konaev, Andrew Imbrie, Ryan Fedasiuk, Emily Weinstein, Katerina Sedova and James Dunham, also made an appearance in Breaking Defense after STRATCOM Commander Admiral Charles Richard warned of a growing China-Russia partnership. The authors argue that “both confirm assessments of the expanding partnership between China and Russia and add an important caveat with regards to its scope and limitations…The overall number of joint Chinese-Russian AI-related publications, however, remains relatively low. …The AI-related investment data tell a similar story—an upward trend in Chinese-Russian investment deals over the past five years, but the overall value remains relatively low…Our findings expose gaps between Chinese and Russian aspirations and the reality on the ground, bringing greater accuracy and nuance to current assessments of Sino-Russian cooperation.”
When producing AI for military systems, it is important to consider its drawbacks and the ways in which it can go wrong. CSET’s Director of Strategy Helen Toner spoke with National Defense about her and Zachary Arnold’s report “AI Accidents: An Emerging Threat.” AI technology can be less accident-prone as more governments, businesses and militaries integrate it into their systems, but there is no guarantee. While there are risks to any type of AI failure, military failure has a higher risk, according to Toner. “The chance of failure is higher and obviously when you have weaponry involved, that’s always going to up the stakes,” she said.
U.S. intelligence reveals that Americans are at risk of handing their generic DNA over to China, according to a Roll Call article. The item references Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi’s testimony last month before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence offering her findings and recommendations to counter China’s S&T collection efforts against the United States. “China has amassed the largest genomic holdings of anywhere in the world. Understanding what genes do, and so access to that kind of data, both their own and from other places in the world, gives them an advantage in figuring out [how to develop medicines],” said Puglisi in her testimony.
Drawing from her report “Mapping India’s AI Potential,” CSET Research Analyst Husanjot Chahal provided a roadmap for a U.S.-India partnership on AI applications in an opinion piece for 9DashLine. “As India and the United States look to navigate the road ahead, their bilateral collaboration in the area of AI applications for military logistics can be a pragmatic way forward,” Chahal wrote.
University World News
A recent CSET report predicts that China could produce twice as many STEM PhD graduates as the United States by 2025. Research Analyst and co-author of the report Jack Corrigan spoke with University World News about what China’s dedication to tech talent through its STEM PhD growth could mean for the United States. “[A country] isn’t necessarily going to become a dominant player in a particular field of technology simply by virtue of having more STEM PhDs; there are a lot of economic factors that play into political considerations that affect the vibrancy of a country’s R&D ecosystem. But looking specifically through this talent lens, you do need a certain number of STEM PhDs to keep the wheels of innovation turning,” Corrigan said.
Center for International Maritime Security
In an opinion piece for the Center for International Maritime Security, Research Analyst Ryan Fedasiuk unpacks China’s growing autonomous undersea vehicles (AUV) and the implications of their use. Fedasiuk drew on a wide array of primary sources, including advertisements from defense companies, PLA writings and research papers and information released by state-run research institutes to illuminate China’s growing fleet of autonomous undersea vehicles. He reviewed three major Chinese AUV developers to identify potential applications of China’s growing fleet of AUVs and continued barriers to development.
Bank Automation News
CSET Research Analyst Micah Musser joined Bank Automation News’ podcast The Buzz, to discuss his report “Machine Learning and Cybersecurity.” He unpacked how AI and machine learning can be leveraged for sophisticated cyberattacks and how financial institutions can separate marketing fiction from cybersecurity reality.
A report published in China suggests that Chinese researchers and scientists are struggling to acquire scientific instruments, which constitute more than 40% of the U.S. export control list. Anna Puglisi spoke with Chemistry World on this issue, describing China’s scientific measurement technology as its Achilles heel. “So much of it is about precision as well,” Puglisi noted. So it’s the design, the application and how you get trained on [instruments]. That’s why China has such a big focus on talent programs – to find those experts who can make sense of things, who have the soft skills to design an experiment using the instrumentation, and to train others on it.” CSET also offers an original translation on “35 Key ‘Stranglehold’ Technologies” by China’s Ministry of Education 2018 article on technologies it must import due to its inability to produce them domestically.
CSET Expert Spotlight: Helen Toner
Helen Toner is CSET’s Director of Strategy. She is responsible for determining CSET’s strategic direction and areas of research.
Her CSET publications include Small Data’s Big AI Potential, AI Accidents: An Emerging Threat and Key Concepts in AI Safety: An Overview. Helen has written for Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Wired and other outlets on the national security implications of AI and machine learning for China and the United States, as well as testifying before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Interested in speaking with Helen or our other experts? Contact External Affairs Specialist Adrienne Thompson at Adrienne.Thompson@georgetown.edu