Our researchers have been making a splash in the media this summer. From assessing the threats presented by deepfakes to working with U.S. lawmakers on devising a national security strategy for AI, CSET experts are weighing in on some of the most pressing challenges at the nexus of security and emerging technology:
CSET partnered with the Bipartisan Policy Center and Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Will Hurd (R-TX) to propose national security considerations for a U.S. AI strategy. CSET’s Helen Toner and Jason Matheny spearheaded the collaboration with the BPC and worked with government officials, industry representatives, civil society advocates and academics to better understand the major AI-related national and economic security issues the country faces. The bipartisan effort was covered in Wired, among other publications. Wired also interviewed CSET’s Tim Hwang about “Deepfakes: A Grounded Threat Assessment.” When it comes to this technology, Hwang said, “a lot of discussion about the threat has been driven by dramatic anecdotes.”
U.S. competitiveness in artificial intelligence hinges both on building a robust workforce and preventing technology transfer by China — two significant lines of CSET research. Over the past month, Axios has highlighted each of these factors in its newsletters. Axios Future covered a data brief by CSET’s Zachary Arnold on Canadian immigration, writing “the U.S. risks losing its long-standing leadership in the tech sector as restrictive laws and a hostile political climate causes highly skilled immigrants to leave for more welcoming countries.” Axios China, in turn, offered readers an overview of an issue brief by CSET’s Ryan Fedasiuk: “This new report looks at Chinese government funding provided to Chinese students studying in the U.S., putting this program in the context of Beijing’s attempts to increase its control and influence abroad.”
The Algorithm, an MIT Technology Review newsletter, covered “Messier than Oil,” an issue brief by CSET’s Husanjot Chahal that analyzes the challenges in assessing whether the United States or China has a “data advantage” in the military AI realm. The newsletter summarized the paper’s findings this way: “Assessing China’s military AI advantage is messier than it seems. The country’s access to commercial market data is unlikely to confer a military operational advantage.” Chahal’s brief and the CSET/BPC collaborative effort also topped the “Notable Reports” list on the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Tech Update newsletter. Additionally, The Algorithm highlighted Ryan Fedasiuk’s issue brief on government funding for Chinese students.
In his first public appearance in the role, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Kratsios joined Jason Matheny to discuss U.S. technological leadership in an increasingly competitive era. The Defense News writeup highlighted Kratsios’ plans to improve collaboration across the Defense Department: “What I’ve learned is that in order to get the most out of the federal government’s technology ecosystem to drive innovation … you need to be better coordinated across all aspects of the ecosystem.” Wired emphasized the Under Secretary’s vision for U.S. military use of emerging technologies to counter China. Additionally, Inside Defense, MeriTalk and OneZero covered the event.
In order to understand how the United States and its allies can confront the challenge posed by China, Politico China Watcher spoke with several experts, including CSET’s Tarun Chhabra, who observed that shaping the democratic digital world and infrastructure offers a key area of collaboration. “We need a technology alliance agenda [including] pooled R&D investments; better coordinated industrial policy and antitrust regulation; privacy-preserving data-sharing; energetic norm-building and technological standard-setting; and tailored, coordinated technology transfer restrictions, investment controls and export controls.”
Washington’s efforts to rein in technology transfer have affected U.S.-based Chinese students and researchers in unanticipated ways. CSET’s Emily Weinstein and Dahlia Peterson analyzed Chinese reactions to a White House proclamation banning graduate students and researchers affiliated in the past or present with entities supporting China’s military-civil fusion. NBC News cited their research, which offered a list of 13 entities likely to be targeted by the ban and found a “critical but relatively muted” response by the Chinese government to the U.S. visa suspensions.