China Investing in U.S. AI with Military Implications

Chinese firms owned by the government and its leaders have been investing billions of dollars in United States startups producing products that could have military implications such as artificial intelligence for defense robots, a recent New York Times article reports.

A CB Insights blog post reported that China pumped $9.9 billion into Silicon Valley firms in 2015 and an additional $3.5 billion in such firms during the first nine months of last year.

The Times article referenced a Defense Department white paper stating, “Beijing is encouraging Chinese companies with close government ties to invest in American start-ups specializing in critical technologies like artificial intelligence and robots to advance China’s military capacity as well as its economy.” That publication is making its way around the hands of top Trump Administration officials.

Moreover, a report published last October by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Committee, which analyzes national security implications of trade with China, read that “Chinese military leaders and strategists believe that the nature of warfare is fundamentally changing due to unmanned platforms” It notes China is housing a burgeoning military drone industry as well efforts to obtain artificial intelligence technology either by investment or possibly “cyber espionage.”

Research firm DSI, which gathered the Intel for the report, says that “state-owned conglomerates, companies, and venture capital firms are actively acquiring and investing in AI and foreign robotics technologies companies, particularly in Europe.”

It seems China may also be turning to arterial intelligence to rival the tech-heavy approach of America’s defense apparatus, which Beijing would be expected to establish defenses against.

However, many of the tech startups that have been doing business with China say they turned to the Communist regime because American firms are reluctant to depend on unproven technology even when the capital investment would be minimal.

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.