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AI and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Two weeks have passed since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, and AI has seemingly played only a minor role so far — primarily in helping generate disinformation. Facebook and Twitter uncovered and removed “covert influence operations” that used AI-generated profile images to push pro-Russian sentiments across multiple platforms. The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, has made use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones (though the extent of their use is unclear) that have some autonomous capabilities. But like the Turkish Kargu-2 drones we covered last year, the TB2’s autonomous capabilities should not be overstated — loitering munitions are “autonomous” but far from new. While Russia’s military AI capabilities lag behind those of the United States and China, military AI technology, outside of certain information processing and decision support functionalities, is still largely in experimental stages. We’ve covered military uses of AI in previous editions of policy.ai but, in each case, open source accounts generally lagged well behind the systems’ usages. We’ll highlight the use of military AI in Ukraine if it occurs, but expect that reporting will take weeks, months or years to emerge.
- More: Autonomous Weapons Are Here, but the World Isn’t Ready for Them | If a killer robot were used, would we know?
- More: Key Concepts in AI Safety: Interpretability in Machine Learning | Model Cards for Model Reporting
Biden Administration Limits Russia’s Access to Critical Technologies: In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States imposed a series of export controls designed to significantly limit its access to critical technologies. The restrictions, announced by the Commerce Department (fact sheet available here), limit Russian and Belarussian access to sensitive technologies, including semiconductors, produced in the United States or in other countries using any U.S.-produced software, technology or equipment. According to the White House, the restrictions, together with coordinated restrictions imposed by U.S. allies and partners, will cut off half of Russia’s high-tech imports. Some of the restrictions’ effects were felt quickly — companies such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia pulled out of the Russian and Belarussian markets, while major cloud computing providers Microsoft and Amazon Web Services blocked new customers in Russia (though Ukrainian officials have called on both companies to cut off existing clients as well). Other effects are likely to take longer to manifest — as experts (including CSET’s Margarita Konaev) told Politico, the sanctions and restrictions on Russia could spark a brain drain as resources, finances and firms disappear.
Biden Urges Passage of Tech Bill in State of the Union: In his State of the Union address last week, President Biden emphasized the importance of domestic semiconductor manufacturing and urged Congress to pass the tech competitiveness bill currently being negotiated by the House and Senate. Biden touted Intel’s planned “mega site” in Ohio — a $20 billion investment in at least two new chip fabrication facilities outside of Columbus. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who was in attendance as a guest of First Lady Jill Biden, has said the Ohio site could grow to a $100 billion investment across as many as eight fabs if Congress approves $52 billion in chipmaking incentives, which would likely be included in a final compromise bill. Both the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act and the House’s America COMPETES Act include those incentives. While the House passed its bill last month, and the Senate passed its version last June, reports indicate conferencing between the chambers has been delayed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process, and some clerical issues.
Intelligence Community Releases Annual Threat Assessment: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its annual threat assessment report earlier this week. The report, which details the biggest threats to national security as identified by the U.S. intelligence community, mentions several threats related to AI and other emerging technologies:
- It cites the “global diffusion of emerging technologies, shrinking timelines for development and maturation of technologies, and increasingly blurred lines between commercial and military endeavors” in fields including AI, robotics and automation as potentially destabilizing transnational threats.
- While it says that the operationalization of military AI will likely remain out of reach for all but the largest and richest states, the report mentions the rapid proliferation of low-cost technologies — such as unmanned aerial and naval vehicles and cyber tools — as a disruptive force with the potential for “high impact and even strategic-level effects.”
- In its section on China, the report warns that “China will remain the top threat to U.S. technological competitiveness” and reiterates concerns that Chinese control over Taiwan would disrupt the global semiconductor supply chain. The report specifically emphasized China’s growing space and counter-space capabilities.
- $141 million for the Bureau of Industry and Security, an increase of $8 million beyond FY2021 levels;
- $8.84 billion for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $351 million above FY2021 levels — including no less than $636 million for AI-related research;
- $1.23 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an increase of $195.5 million above FY2021 levels — including no less than $31 million for NIST’s AI research and measurement science efforts;
- $119.2 billion for Department of Defense research, development, test and evaluation, a $12.1 billion increase from FY2021 levels; and
- $50 million in dedicated DOD funding for recruiting and training an “artificial intelligence-literate acquisition workforce.”
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
Made in China 2025: Notice of the State Council on the Publication of “Made in China 2025.” Made in China 2025, one of China’s most important industrial policies, sets milestones for China to reach by 2020 and 2025 in service of its goal of upgrading the PRC manufacturing sector. The Made in China 2025 strategy aims both to increase the competitiveness and global market share of the Chinese manufacturing industry and to reduce China’s dependence on foreign manufactured goods.
If you have a foreign-language document related to security and emerging technologies that you’d like translated into English, CSET may be able to help! Click here for details.
We’re hiring! Please apply or share the roles below with candidates in your network:
- Research Fellow – Cyber/AI: CSET’s CyberAI project is currently seeking Research Fellow candidates to focus on machine learning applications for cybersecurity to assess their potential and identify recommendations for policymakers. Apply by March 14.
- Business Operations and Management Specialist: Reporting to CSET’s Director of Operations, the management specialist will have responsibility for sub-grant processing, contracts management and grants management for the entirety of CSET. Excel/gsheets skills are a must. Apply by March 14.
- Data Scientist: We are currently seeking applications for a Data Scientist to explore research questions leveraging CSET’s unique data holdings. Apply by April 1.
- UI/UX Designer: We are currently seeking applications for a UI/UX Designer to perform user interviews, write user stories, create user interface mockups, and conduct usability testing for public-facing Emerging Technology Observatory (ETO) products. Apply by April 1.
What’s New at CSET
- A Competitive Era for China’s Universities: How Increased Funding Is Paving the Way by Ryan Fedasiuk, Alan Omar Loera Martinez and Anna Puglisi
- The New Fire: War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI by Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie
- Wall Street Journal: Should the U.S. Government Subsidize Domestic Chip Production? Yes: Economic and national security demand it by Will Hunt
- CSET: Data Snapshot: Using PARAT to Rank Companies by Top AI Conference Publications by Autumn Toney
- CSET: Formal Response: Recommendations to OSTP on the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan by Jack Corrigan
- MSNBC: Research Fellow Katerina Sedova appeared on MSNBC Reports to discuss Russian disinformation efforts tied to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
- C-SPAN: Sedova was a guest on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal to discuss the cyberattacks Russia has conducted as part of its offensive.
- Axios: Sedova also earned a mention in a piece by Margaret Harding McGill, Ashley Gold and Sophia Cai after she spoke with them about potential targets of Russian cyberattacks.
- Grid: Sedova spoke to Benjamin Powers of Grid about U.S. preparation for Russia’s potential escalation of cyber attacks in response to sanctions.
- Washington Post: Sedova spoke with Lauren Lumpkin about the outpouring of support for Ukraine on college campuses, including Georgetown University.
- Washington Post: CSET’s Associate Director of Analysis and Research Fellow Margarita Konaev discussed preparations for urban warfare in an article by Shane Harris, Michael Birnbaum, John Hudson, Dan Lamothe and David L. Stern.
- CNBC: Konaev spoke about the trajectory of Russian influence operations with CNBC’s Lauren Feiner.
- NPR: Konaev appeared on NPR’s flagship news program, All Things Considered, weighing in on the complicated role social media has played in shaping narratives around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Politico: Konaev also discussed the potential effects of sanctions on Russia’s AI industry with Politico’s Brendan Bordelon earlier this week.
- Vox: For an Ellen Ioanes article about Russian siege tactics in Ukraine, Konaev discussed the Russian military’s approach to urban warfare.
- Vox: For a Vox explainer about the invasion by Jen Kirby and Jonathan Guyer, Konaev gave her thoughts on Russian strategy.
- National Post: Konaev also discussed the realities of urban warfare with Tom Blackwell.
- Wall Street Journal: Kate O’Keefe tapped Research Fellow Emily Weinstein for her thoughts on U.S. controls on exports to Russia.
- MIT Technology Review: Jess Aloe and Eileen Guo reached out to Weinstein to discuss the end of the controversial China Initiative.
- MIT Technology Review: Patrick Howell O’Neill spoke with Research Analyst Dakota Cary about China’s cyberespionage efforts and cited his recent issue brief, Robot Hacking Games: China’s Competitions to Automate the Software Vulnerability Lifecycle for a recent article.
What We’re Reading
Report: Securing Defense-Critical Supply Chains: An action plan developed in response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14017, U.S. Department of Defense (February 2022)
Report: China’s Digital Ambitions: A Global Strategy to Supplant the Liberal Order, The National Bureau of Asian Research (March 2022)
Report: Artificial Intelligence: Status of Developing and Acquiring Capabilities for Weapon Systems, U.S. Government Accountability Office (February 2022)
- March 10: CSET Webinar, Bringing the Chipmakers Home: Attracting Manufacturers and the Talent to Sustain Them, featuring Will Hunt and John VerWey
- April 14: CSET Webinar, Securing Tomorrow’s AI Workforce, featuring Diana Gehlhaus, Nicol Turner Lee, Shalin Jyotishi and John Piorkowski
What else is going on? Suggest stories, documents to translate & upcoming events here.