Fight Escalates Over TikTok and WeChat: Chinese social networking apps TikTok and WeChat continue to operate in the United States despite Trump Administration efforts. Some recent developments:
- On September 18, the Commerce Department prohibited all business transactions with WeChat or TikTok within the United States. The ban was to have gone into effect on September 20, with some restrictions on TikTok delayed until November 12 — the deadline the White House had set for TikTok’s spinoff.
- On September 19, President Trump tentatively authorized Oracle to purchase 20 percent of the U.S.-based subsidiary TikTok Global and directed the Commerce Department to delay the TikTok ban by one week. The deal still requires formal approval by both the U.S. government and China; some observers believe Beijing is unlikely to approve it.
- On September 20, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler halted the ban on WeChat.
- On September 27, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols blocked the TikTok ban but declined to extend the November 12 spinoff deadline.
China Unveils “Unreliable Entity List” of Overseas Organizations: One day after the U.S. TikTok and WeChat bans were announced, China’s Ministry of Commerce released details about its “Unreliable Entity List,” an anticipated list of foreign organizations with trade restrictions intended to parallel the U.S. Entity List. Beijing’s version would prohibit or limit imports, exports and investments from companies taking “discriminatory” measures against a Chinese organization or person or deemed a danger to China’s national security. So far, no organizations are listed. State-backed media suggested that U.S. companies Qualcomm, Cisco, Apple, Boeing and FedEx might be added; however, The Wall Street Journal reported some Chinese leaders believe companies should not be added before the U.S. presidential election.
Microsoft To Exclusively License OpenAI’s GPT-3: Microsoft will exclusively license OpenAI’s GPT-3, according to a September 22 company announcement. Unveiled by OpenAI in June, the 175 billion parameter natural language processing model quickly gained attention for its ability to answer questions, write computer code and generate essays. The details of how the “exclusive license” will work have not been publicized; early reports suggest that while others can use GPT-3 through the API, Microsoft alone will have access to the underlying code. The two companies’ relationship is ongoing: Last summer, Microsoft announced it would invest $1 billion in OpenAI, and in May it revealed a collaboratively designed supercomputer. OpenAI faces some criticism for making the new GPT-3 deal exclusive.
China May Block Nvidia’s Purchase of Arm: Per an op-ed in Chinese state-run media, the Chinese government may not approve U.S. GPU designer Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of U.K. chip company Arm. A Global Times editorial described the acquisition as “disturbing” both for Chinese and European companies, arguing that the purchase would disadvantage Chinese ones especially amid U.S.-China tensions. The editorial quotes Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser, who said the deal would compromise Arm’s position as the “Switzerland of the semiconductor industry.” Chinese regulators have not publicly commented on the deal; the last time a semiconductor deal of this size was attempted, it was not approved.
JAIC Hosts First AI Dialogue for Defense: The Pentagon’s Joint AI Center hosted its first AI Partnership for Defense meeting on September 15–16 in collaboration with the governments of 12 other countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The Partnership for Defense provides a recurring forum for military and defense organizations to discuss approaches to military applications of AI. The first meeting included the U.K., France, Israel, South Korea and Japan, among others; JAIC leadership expects more countries to join in the coming year. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the partnership at the DOD AI Symposium on September 9.
Commerce Department Restricts Sales to SMIC: The Department of Commerce is requiring U.S. chip companies to obtain a license before exporting certain technologies to Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., The Wall Street Journal reports. SMIC is China’s largest semiconductor manufacturing company and is backed by state-owned entities; the Commerce Department is concerned SMIC will use U.S. semiconductor manufacturing equipment to make advanced chips for use by the Chinese military. SMIC denied any relationship with China’s military and said it provides services solely for civilian and commercial purposes.
Resolution Outlining National AI Strategy Introduced: On September 16, Reps. Hurd and Kelly introduced a concurrent resolution containing principles for a national AI strategy. The bipartisan measure outlines actions in the areas of workforce preparedness, national security, R&D and ethics. Hurd and Kelly held a series of stakeholder meetings and wrote four reports with the Bipartisan Policy Center, including one on national security that CSET co-authored. The resolution encourages collaboration with allies, increased R&D funding and expanded support for technology education programs. Reps. Chabot, Veasey, Moulton, Baird, Cloud and Connolly also co-sponsored it.
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
Strategic New Industry Investment Guiding Opinions: New Chinese Ambitions for “Strategic Emerging Industries.” This translation is the result of collaboration between CSET and the DigiChina Project, based at the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center and a joint effort with New America. Issued jointly by several PRC ministries in September 2020, this policy document lays out China’s priorities for the development of strategic emerging industries ahead of this fall’s Party plenum on the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan.
Xi Jinping Speeches at Expert Symposia: Xi delivered these speeches to meetings of academics in August and September of 2020 that he convened to solicit input for China’s upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan.
- Speech at the Symposium of Experts in Economic and Social Fields. In his remarks, Xi emphasizes the importance of reducing the Chinese economy’s dependence on foreign markets, although he insists that “opening up” to the world continues to be China’s policy and calls for cooperation with U.S. state and local governments and companies.
- Speech at the Symposium of Scientists. Xi stresses the need for China to improve its economic and scientific self-sufficiency, urges increased investment in basic research and advocates both for better domestic training of scientists and continued efforts to recruit foreign scientists.
What We’re Reading
Paper: The Future of Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence: A Role for Confidence-Building Measures?, Michael C. Horowitz, Lauren Kahn and Casey Mahoney (August 2020)
Report: Government Incentives and U.S. Competitiveness in Semiconductor Manufacturing, Boston Consulting Group and Semiconductor Industry Association (September 2020)
Report: Europe and AI: Leading, Lagging Behind, or Carving Its Own Way?, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace (July 2020)
Paper: The Hardware Lottery, Sara Hooker, Google Brain (September 2020)
What’s New at CSET
- AI Policy Recommendations for the Next Administration:
- Multilateral Controls on Hardware Chokepoints by Carrick Flynn and Saif M. Khan
- Optional Practical Training by Zachary Arnold and Remco Zwetsloot
- Bolstering U.S. Research Security by Melissa Flagg and Zachary Arnold
- Open-Source Intelligence for S&T Analysis by Tarun Chhabra, William Hannas, Dewey Murdick and Anna Puglisi
- An Alliance-Centered Approach To AI by Andrew Imbrie and Ryan Fedasiuk
- System Re-Engineering: A New Policy Framework for the American R&D System in a Changed World by Melissa Flagg and Paul Harris
- China AI-Brain Research: Brain-Inspired AI, Connectomics, Brain-Computer Interfaces by William Hannas, Huey-Meei Chang, Jennifer Wang, Catherine Aiken and Daniel Chou
- The Chipmakers: U.S. Strengths and Priorities for the High-End Semiconductor Workforce by Will Hunt and Remco Zwetsloot
- U.S. Demand for AI-Related Talent Part II: Degree Majors and Skills Assessment by Autumn Toney and Melissa Flagg
- Tracking AI Investment: Initial Findings From the Private Markets by Zachary Arnold, Ilya Rahkovsky and Tina Huang
- Foreign Policy: If You Want to Keep Talent Out of China, Invest at Home by Ryan Fedasiuk
- The Jamestown Foundation: Putting Money in the Party’s Mouth: How China Mobilizes Funding for United Front Work by Ryan Fedasiuk
- Brookings: What Investment Trends Reveal About the Global AI Landscape by Zachary Arnold
- CSET: Legislative Roundup: House Advances Half a Dozen New AI Measures Before Fiscal Year Comes to a Close by Daniel Hague
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 China add a U.S. company to its Unreliable Entities List by November 2, 2020? Current crowd forecast says 30 percent chance.
- (New) What percentage of O visas will go to Chinese nationals in FY21? — Conditional on President Trump’s re-election, and conditional on Vice President Biden’s election.
- (New) What percentage of U.S. residents will have an unfavorable view of China, as reflected in the 2021 Pew Global Attitudes Survey?
- The New York Times: Zachary Arnold’s research on U.S. residents emigrating to Canada was cited in an article on computing pioneers’ reactions to Trump’s immigration policies.
- The Wall Street Journal: Tarun Chhabra was quoted in a piece on the implications of a possible China blacklist.
- VentureBeat: Jason Matheny’s congressional testimony on AI and the workforce was mentioned in a story on the Defense Innovation Board’s recommendations to the Pentagon.
- Gizmodo: Anna Puglisi was quoted about Chinese open-source information collection in an article on a Chinese firm’s harvesting of prominent Americans’ social media posts.
- Kitchen Sync: CSET research on China’s technologically driven mass surveillance in Xinjiang was featured in the The Heritage Foundation’s Kitchen Sync newsletter.
- Chronicle of Higher Education: CSET research on how Canada draws talent from the United States was mentioned in a Chronicle roundup of higher-education news and in their global education newsletter, latitude(s).
- AFCEA Signal: A piece summarizing the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit described Margarita Konaev’s comments comparing China, Russia and the U.S.’s military applications of AI.
- TechSpot: Saif M. Khan’s estimate of the cost of TSMC’s 5nm wafer in his report on AI Chips was the focus of an article on the chips made with these unusually expensive wafers.
- Axios Future: CSET’s AI policy recommendations for the next presidential administration were featured in this newsletter.
- October 2: CSIS, CFIUS Modernization – Where Are We Today?
- October 6: CSET & WestExec Advisors, Building Trust Through Testing: Adapting DOD’s TEVV Enterprise for Machine Learning Systems, Including Deep Learning Systems
- October 19: CSET, Using Crowd Forecasting to Inform Policy, with Jason Matheny
What else is going on? Suggest stories, documents to translate & upcoming events here.