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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 previouseditionsof 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.
Meta’s New System Cards: Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, introduced “system cards” that aim to explain to non-experts how its AI systems work. As AI models — like those that power Facebook’s Feed — have become a bigger part of everyday life, researchers, advocates and policymakers have called on developers to improve the “explainability” (also called “interpretability”) of their AI systems. China’s new algorithm laws, which went into effect on March 1, and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation both include algorithm explanation requirements. But generating explanations for complex AI systems — many of which are inscrutable even to their developers — is easier said than done. AI developers have experimented with a number of solutions, including Google’s “model cards,” which explain key facts about individual models. Meta’s new system cards, designed by the company’s “Responsible AI team,” perform a similar task for systems made up of multiple models working in concert. The pilot project card — which explains the Instagram Feed’s ranking system — walks users through the system’s purpose, components and scoring process.
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.
House-Passed $1.5 Trillion Bill Includes S&T Funding: On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion spending bill that would fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2022. The bill boosts funding beyond FY2021 levels in several areas relevant to S&T policy, including:
Current government funding expires at the end of this Friday. While observers expect the spending agreement to pass both chambers, procedural issues are expected to prevent final passage before the end-of-week deadline, so the Senate will likely approve a temporary stop-gap measure that the House also passed last night to avoid any lapse in funding.
In Translation 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.
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