We all know the famous movie line, “I’ll be back…”. Spoken by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the 1984 cult classic sci-fi Movie, “The Terminator”, it’s become the punchline in a series of movies regarding a not so distant future in with artificially intelligent robots take over the world and attempt destroy humanity. Then when we hear public figures and futurists like Elon Musk say that artificial intelligence could destroy Human Kind, we imagine a rise of machines against us. Fortunately, that’s a very misled concept that Hollywood has imbued into our imaginations for many years. That doesn’t, however, remove the fact that artificial intelligence is very likely to bring about another world war, if we aren’t careful about it. This is how.
From 1949, through 1991, the US and then Soviet Union, were in a cold war, and the earth held its breath. With the loss of the US monopoly on atomic weaponry, development of ICBM warheads, and advancements in military tech, we were looking at a considerable problem should war occur. Once of the big drivers of this unfriendly competition, was the infamous Space Race, beginning in 1955 with the announcement of the first satellites being developed and launched into orbit. It wasn’t long after we were talking about sending crews of astronauts into space, then shortly after the first moon landing, the final lap in the Space Race. It was basically believed that the first country to develop the most advanced “space age” tech would be the official major super power of the world, and have a keen advantage over all others. And it was the US that succeeded with their moon landing in 1969.
Today we are faced with a new Race, the AI Chip race. Artificial intelligence has introduced an entirely new concept and frontier in the computing world. Imagine calculable power of a computer processor, with the curiosity and learning abilities of a human brain, the ultimate computer. And it has been said that the country that develops the most advanced artificial intelligence will be the world leader and super power. Once again, the race begins. The issue we face is currently, China is the leader, and they aren’t interested in losing their position any time soon. Their government is backing their AI research and development by providing full support in projects and funding. They’ve already began surveilling in cities on every street corner using cameras to detect abnormalities in movement, behavior and objects to aide in crime detection. They’re also using this data to train and develop the knowledge for their massive artificial intelligence system. On top of that, they’re receiving over 150 Billion dollars in federal backing. The US will have a lot of catching up to do, and quickly, especially considering China’s 2030 initiative, which is to be the worldwide super power in Artificial intelligence by 2030.
So that begs the question, how in the world does AI development make you a super power of the world? The answer is simple, machines with more efficiency, and similar “thinking” skills than humans. Imagine perfect soldier, one that does not feel, obeys all orders, executes commands with deadly accuracy and speed, and does all this with the ability to adapt as situations change. A missile system that can understand your flight maneuvering patterns and predict them based on the way you fly a jet. Or a drone that understands what you’re talking about based on your facial movements and gestures. Or an automated armored vehicle sent into city to search out and destroy enemies, with minimal civilian casualties, all based on the actions and movements of the people around it. Imagine, a weapon that can literally “figure out” its next move. That is the reason that having the most advanced AI technology, could make you the most powerful super power in the world.
How could this cause World War 3? Well there’s really two major risks here. The first being a country develops this weaponry, then begin utilizing it to essentially take over the world, and that would definitely cause a catastrophic war. The other is more political and clandestine. The fear of another country becoming more advanced and gaining the capability of destroying you, can be a pretty powerful motivation. So, if the US, or even another country were to try and steal, or destroy China’s advanced technology via espionage or other venues, this could also trigger major conflicts between current world super powers. As we hear about things like Siri, Bixby, and even Google assistant, remember that we must use them responsibly, and perhaps after reading this, maybe treat them with the respect they deserve. After all, they could be the next atom bomb, just in a digital form.