The famous periodical cicadas aren’t alone in creating recent buzz: Media have been seeking out our experts for their views and to highlight the latest research at the intersection of security and emerging technology. This month they weighed in on China’s internet trolls, AI safety and the changing global research landscape.
Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal’s case analysis of scientist Anming Hu, a naturalized Canadian citizen born in China who is on trial for economic espionage, offers a deeper look into how the Chinese government compels researchers to engage in its agenda. CSET Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi told The Journal, “Highlighting these behaviors is not advocating for closing the door to overseas talent, but acknowledging that China has policies that incentivize people to thwart global norms of collaboration. A lot of science is built on trust, and these policies undermine that.”
On June 3, President Biden issued an executive order barring Americans from holding stock in 59 Chinese companies, a number of which manufacture surveillance technology that is used against Chinese citizens. The order expanded a ban imposed by the Trump administration. In Slate Magazine, CSET Research Analyst Emily Weinstein pointed out that several U.S. firms sell hardware and software to some of these Chinese companies, affecting U.S. security and values more than equity investments do.
Voice of America Mandarin
Voice of America’s Mandarin service spoke with CSET Research Analyst Ryan Fedasiuk about the role Chinese science and technology diplomats take in the acquisition of foreign technology, the subject of an issue brief he co-wrote with Puglisi and Weinstein. Fedasiuk noted, “We have found that Chinese diplomats help Chinese companies that appear to be private companies to obtain foreign technology projects and act as intermediaries so that Chinese companies can invest in specific fields and companies, as well as those overseas that can advance China’s goals.”
How safe is artificial intelligence? CSET collaborated closely with the Partnership on AI to launch the AI Incident Database, a compilation of incidents by AI systems that have caused or nearly caused harm. Wired spoke with Director of Strategy Helen Toner about the database’s purpose to educate others on AI risks, improve safety features and create a mandated form of AI incident reporting. “I think it would be wise for [AI incident reporting] to be accompanied by feedback from the real world on what we are trying to prevent and what kinds of things are going wrong,” Toner said.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Latitude(s)
The global map of research has shifted dramatically over the last 20 years. While much of the attention to research output still falls on the United States and China, other countries are playing an increasing R&D role. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Latitude(s)’ newsletter explored this issue when they featured the policy brief “Research Security, Collaboration, and the Changing Map of the Global R&D,” coauthored by Melissa Flagg, Autumn Toney and Paul Harris. The narrative of a research hegemon is no longer as relevant as it once was, with countries such as Australia, Canada, and the UK increasing their international collaboration. “If we frame everything as a bilateral race between the U.S. and China, we’re missing half of the system because we’ve really globalized,” Harris noted.
The FT’s #techAsia newsletter recapped a data brief published last week by Toney and Flagg that uses CSET’s new Map of Science to present a comprehensive analysis of U.S. and Chinese research outputs. The previous week’s edition of the newsletter featured the issue brief by Fedasiuk, Puglisi and Weinstein on Chinese S&T diplomats’ efforts to acquire foreign technology, calling it “groundbreaking.”
Forbes recapped China Tech Threat’s roundtable discussion on semiconductor export controls and future recommendations for the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. Research Analyst Will Hunt joined as a panelist to discuss China’s progress in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and further steps the U.S. can take to advance its own semiconductor capabilities. “China understands how important dual use technologies are… If we can apply narrow controls on input, which may hurt U.S. companies a little bit in the short term, it will have lasting national security benefits — which benefit businesses in the long-term,” Hunt said.
Council on Foreign Relations
Drawing from his original research on the militarization of China’s internet trolls, Research Analyst Ryan Fedasiuk reassessed the capabilities of internet trolls in his piece for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Net Politics blog. With the rapid growth of China’s Fifty Cent Army, a Party-sponsored online group responsible for creating fake accounts to promote Chinese propaganda within and outside of mainland China, Fedasiuk concludes that “it is up to democratic governments and global social media platforms to address China’s growing capacity to disinform.”