Huawei Developed Facial Recognition Tech With “Uyghur Alarm”:According to a document shared with The Washington Post, the Chinese company Huawei developed and tested facial recognition technology that could identify an individual’s ethnicity and alert authorities when it registered a member of the Uyghur population. Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications manufacturer, confirmed the document’s authenticity. A spokesman for the company said the system was only a test and had not been deployed for real-world use, but The Post reported that Chinese-language marketing materials on a Huawei site advertised a number of products’ ethnicity-tracking capabilities. Huawei has reportedly supplied several surveillance tools to authorities in Xinjiang, the northwestern region of China where a majority of Uyghurs live and where millions have been interned in state-run camps, but it was not clear whether these tools were equipped with the ethnicity-tracking capability.
Fewer Bits Could Change Deep Learning: During the annual NeurIPS conference last week, IBM researchers proposed a new process that could make deep learning much more efficient. In their paper, the researchers explain that 4-bit computers could perform the same AI processes as 16-bit computers (the current standard) with only a minor loss in accuracy. Training efficiency could rise by more than 700 percent through 4-bit deep learning, opening the door for deep learning on smaller devices like smartphones. Speaking with MIT Technology Review, some observers advised caution: because 4-bit training would require new hardware, its real-world application is still several years away, and its actual performance may not measure up to the theoretical levels proposed in last week’s paper. One expert noted that promising 2016 research on 5-bit training failed to deliver on lofty expectations.
The National AI Initiative Act, which directs the president to establish a National Artificial Intelligence Initiative to support U.S. leadership in AI. The measure authorizes approximately $5 billion for National Science Foundation AI research and education grants, as well as more than $1 billion for Department of Energy AI research.
Provisions from the CHIPS for America Act to support the development and production of semiconductors in the United States. The included provisions direct DOD to establish a public-private consortium for the development of chips. They also authorize a fund to advance microelectronics research with allies and partners, provided those partners enact controls on chip exports to China.
President Trump Signs Executive Order On AI Development: On December 3, the president issued an executive order that sets guiding principles for the federal government’s AI use. It instructs agencies to adhere to nine principles when designing, developing, acquiring or using AI, including that it be “Understandable,” “Responsible and traceable,” “Accountable” and “Regularly monitored.” The order directs OMB to develop a roadmap for policy guidance within 180 days, a deadline more than four months into the Biden administration. Although the Biden campaign advanced positions on AI policy, the transition has not yet released an AI strategy.
House Unanimously Passes Resolution On National AI Strategy: Last week, the House passed a nonbinding resolution outlining a national AI strategy. The resolution, co-authored by Reps. Hurd and Kelly, drew on four white papers by the Bipartisan Policy Center written in consultation with Hurd and Kelly, including one co-authored by CSET. The measure encourages collaboration with allies, increased R&D funding and expanded support for technology education programs. The Senate has yet to consider a similar resolution.
In Translation CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
PRC Cybersecurity Report:Research Report on the Status of China’s Information Security Professionals (2018-2019). This study by a PRC government cybersecurity center analyzes China’s complement of cybersecurity and IT security professionals. The study finds that PRC cybersecurity practitioners are still too few in number and are often burdened with non-security-related IT tasks, though China is making progress solving these problems. The authors recommend that all Party leaders take courses on cybersecurity to raise awareness of the importance of the topic.
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