Chinese Export Controls Complicate TikTok Sale: On Friday, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced new technology export restrictions that may impede the planned sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations. The AI technologies listed — including speech recognition, speech evaluation and personalized recommendation systems — can be exported only with special permission. Media reported that TikTok said it will “strictly comply” with the updated Chinese export controls. TikTok is preparing to divest U.S. operations after President Trump issued executive orders targeting it and its parent company, ByteDance. An announcement about a buyer may come as soon as this week. On August 24, TikTok sued the Trump Administration, saying the executive orders violate the company’s right to due process.
- More: How TikTok’s Owner Tried, and Failed, to Cross the U.S.-China Divide | CSET Translation of New Export Restrictions
New Chips Unveiled at Semiconductor Conference: During the August 16-19 leading semiconductor conference Hot Chips, several companies announced innovations. U.S.-based Cerebras teased its second-generation Wafer Scale Engine, the largest chip ever built. The new WSE is specialized for deep learning and represents a significant improvement over the first generation released last year. U.S. chip startup Lightmatter unveiled its silicon photonics chip, Mars, which uses light instead of electrical signals to perform AI calculations. Several other companies also revealed the next generations of their AI chips.
AI Agent Wins AlphaDogfight Against Human Pilot: In a series of simulated dogfights, Heron Systems’ F-16 AI agent defeated an Air Force F-16 pilot five times out of five. DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trial had three phases: first, AI agents from eight companies faced off against DARPA’s AI system, then the agents played each other. Finally, the top AI system competed with a human pilot. This trial isn’t the first time an AI pilot has defeated a human: In 2016, an AI beat a combat flight instructor in a simpler competition. Heron said its winning AI agent was trained with reinforcement learning, using four billion simulations equivalent to roughly 12 years of human fighter-pilot experience. DARPA Program Manager Col. Dan Javorsek called the trials a success, saying the goal was for AI systems “to earn the respect of a fighter pilot.”
White House Announces Funding for New AI Institutes: The Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy announced the creation of 12 new AI and quantum information science institutes, with plans to spend $1 billion over five years. NSF is awarding $140 million to a total of seven machine learning research institutes, and ultimately plans to invest more than $300 million. Six universities will host a combined seven institutes focused on using AI for weather forecasting, STEM education, molecular discovery, food systems, agricultural resilience and more. In the same announcement, the White House announced five quantum information science institutes led by Department of Energy National Laboratory teams.
Comments Requested on Export Controls for Foundational Technologies: The Department of Commerce issued a call for comments on how to identify foundational technologies essential to U.S. national security as it weighs possible export controls. The notice requests information on defining and identifying foundational technology, determining whether technology is essential to national security, and predicting the potential impact of export controls on foreign and domestic industry. The rule gives the example of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and associated tools as foundational technologies that may be tied to military efforts in China, Russia or Venezuela. Comments are open through October 26.
NIST Releases Draft Principles of Explainable AI: Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have drafted four principles to help judge the clarity of AI decisions. They argue that explainability — understanding why an AI system made a given decision — will be a key component in trusting AI in high-stakes scenarios. The four principles are: decisions should be accompanied by explanations, explanations should make sense to users, explanations should be accurate and the system should not operate when it isn’t confident in its decision. NIST requests comments on the principles through October 15.
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
Applications of Health Technology for Epidemic Control: Example Applications of Digital Health Technology for Epidemic Prevention and Control. This translation, excerpted from a Chinese government think tank report, describes several examples of how PRC AI companies are using AI technology to improve COVID-19 prevention and treatment. The examples range from meal delivery robots to tracking mobile phones of suspected infected individuals. For more on China’s use of AI in its COVID-19 response, see CSET’s most recent report by Emily Weinstein.
2019 Annual Budgets: These are translations of the 2019 annual budgets of several Chinese agencies:
What We’re Reading
Report: Facial Recognition Technology: Privacy and Accuracy Issues Related to Commercial Uses, Government Accountability Office (July 2020)
Book: T-Minus AI: Humanity’s Countdown to Artificial Intelligence and the New Pursuit of Global Power, Michael Kanaan (August 2020)
What’s New at CSET
- China’s Use of AI in Its COVID-19 Response by Emily Weinstein
- Eye on AI Podcast: Episode 49 — The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Q2 Recommendations with Jason Matheny
- The Lawfare Podcast: The State of the U.S.-China Relationship with Tarun Chhabra
- TechSequences Podcast: Facial Recognition — the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with Dahlia Peterson
- CSET Foretell: An Isolated China in a Globalized World by Alex Barker
CSET has launched a crowd forecasting platform. Sign up as a forecaster, and take a look at some of the predictions so far:
- (New) Will the U.S. Justice Department file an antitrust lawsuit against Google by September 14? Current crowd forecast says 21 percent chance.
- (New) What will the combined revenue of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft be in the third quarter of 2020? Crowd’s current point estimate is $259 billion.
- (New) How much funding will U.S. tech startups raise between July 1 and December 31?
- An AI National Strategy for Congress, a Bipartisan Policy Center webinar featuring Helen Toner.
- NextGov: An article on Rep. Will Hurd and Rep. Robin Kelly’s plans to introduce resolution on AI mentioned CSET’s collaboration on a report on AI and national security.
- Scientific American: An article on the importance of recruiting foreign scientists for quantum computing and AI cites CSET research on the U.S. AI workforce.
- The Diplomat: A piece on China’s talent-recruitment programs cites William Hannas’ estimates on the extent of China’s Thousand Talents Plan.
- Brookings: Tarun Chhabra was quoted emphasizing the importance of promoting technologies that advance democratic values in a report on the risks of facial recognition software.
- September 8: CSET, Power on the Precipice: The Six Choices America Faces in a Turbulent World featuring Andrew Imbrie
- September 16: NDI, Democracy, Technology, and China: US Strategy for Innovation in the 21st Century featuring Madeleine Albright and Senator Mark Warner
What else is going on? Suggest stories, documents to translate & upcoming events here.