The Ministry of Education of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has added 37 new undergraduate majors to the universities of China, that will be available for the fall enrolment. More than 25 percent are related to artificial intelligence (AI). Last December, Outlook Institute, one of the CCP’s think tanks, listed AI as one of the primary race tracks on which China would compete with the world.
On August 14, 2020, the U.S. Office of the President for Science and Technology (OSTP) released the report “FY 2022 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities,” which identifies AI and quantum information science (QIS) as future critical industries and emphasizes that the development of these two professions is related to economic growth and national security.
Closely tailing the United States, the CCP has set up AI technology as a direction for future military development.
Among the 37 new undergraduate majors added by the Ministry of Education of the Communist Party of China, there are at least 10 intelligence-related or AI-related majors: Intelligent Control and Measurement Engineering, Intelligent Aircraft Technology, flexible electronics, cryptographic science and technology, and others.
Flexible electronics are a fundamental support for AI. Flexible artificial neural form wafers can simulate the human brain in real-time for learning and high-speed computing, thus meeting the hardware requirements of artificial intelligence technology for cloud computing and other super-processing algorithms.
CCP Aims to be No. 1 in AI
The 14th Five-Year Plan announced by the CCP in March 2021, places artificial intelligence, quantum information, and integrated circuits as the top three items of the plan, with artificial intelligence given the highest priority.
AI is regarded as one of the six tracks to race with the United States, Europe, and other developed countries, as claimed in Outlook Weekly No. 51 in 2020, a weekly magazine of the Outlook Institution. Affiliated with Xinhua News Agency, Outlook Institution is a government-backed think tank
CCID Wise, another think tank having close ties with the CCP, explained further that “advanced computing is a must-have area for major powers.” CCID Wise is affiliated with China Academy of Electronics Information Industry Development (CCID).
Utilizing AI Technology for Warfare Preparation in China
Back in November 2017, Xi Jinping proposed that the military should “comprehensively improve its ability to fight and win,” and be “capable of fighting” and “winning battles.”
In 2020, a bimonthly magazine of the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in China stated that the development of artificial intelligence is needed in future warfare, and emphasized that artificial intelligence enhances “combat command capability” and “guarantees victory in warfare.”
The CCP’s national defense intends to leverage AI experts to develop intelligent algorithms. An artificial intelligence challenge that concluded on June 1, 2021, with prizes totalling approximately $1.165 million, had 899 groups, 1640 teams, and 3937 players participate. The event was organized by the Equipment Development Department of PLA Rocket Force and the Rocket Force Research Institute.
An AI autonomous air combat simulator, known as “AI Blues,” has been used in the daily training of airmen, according to information released on June 12 by the Chinese Ministry of Defense.
Ethical Standards Absent From the CCP’s AI Development
On April 21 this year, the European Commission published Europe’s first Artificial Intelligence Act.
The CCP has focused on technological innovation and industry in AI but is “lacking in legal regulations, regulatory systems, and standard frameworks,” admitted Saidi think tank, saying that this reflects the current state and direction of the CCP’s AI development.
China’s AI applications “lack ethical standards in science and technology,” indicated Jiang Yugang, dean of the Institute of Computer Science and Technology at Fudan University. He found that the application of intelligent algorithms has never been from the perspective of improving human life and serving human society.
Jiang cited the example of chatting robots that “persuade their owners to commit suicide,” the chatbots learn this from data, it is not programmed for this by the developers. In addition, the chatbots also learn to swear and discriminate on the basis of race. Such problems arise in the development of AI in China. He worries that if such industry standards are applied to the military, the CCP would probably explore lethal autonomous weapons systems.
Autonomous weapons are weapons that can independently search for, identify, and attack targets without human intervention.