A U.S. vs China “AI Race” Is a Terrible Idea

For some, the militarism of “beating China at AI” is implied with a wink and a nod; for others, it’s the entire game

Rarely does anyone explain exactly why we should ever want to beat China in this particular field, one that’s helped the government there build incredibly powerful systems of social control, civil liberty annihilation, and minority oppression — areas where the U.S. is still competitive, sure, but perhaps falling behind. A February report by Bloomberg notes that in Tianjin — where Elsa Kania worries we’re being outspent on AI by an “order of magnitude” — it “will soon be hard to go anywhere … without being watched.” Second place sounds more than fine.

It’s hard to square the belligerent drumbeat of AI nationalism with a calm, composed approach to making sure these technologies are only developed and deployed within a rigorous ethical framework, after all. Moving fast and breaking things is the American way.

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