U.S. Joins Global Partnership on AI to Check China’s Power

The United States became the last of the Group of Seven countries to sign on to the G7 AI Pact, an initiative focused on responsible development of artificial intelligence. The Global Partnership on AI will, after study, create recommendations on AI technologies that “respect privacy and civil liberties.” At a G7 meeting of science and technology ministers, U.S. chief technology officer Michael Kratsios and President Trump’s science adviser Kelvin Droegemeier will describe the U.S.’s involvement in the program.

Bloomberg reports that the Global Partnership on AI “will ask member states to follow principles drafted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which recommends developing AI technologies that respect human rights and are transparent to anyone affected by them.”

The U.S. lagged in joining the G7 partnership, “in part out of a concern that the group would conflict with the OECD’s framework.” Kratsios, formerly a Thiel Capital chief of staff, “acknowledged that the Trump administration had generally been skeptical of multilateral agreements but said that this one was important as a check on China’s approach to AI, which often involves using new technologies to augment an already-robust surveillance state.”

He noted that COVID-19 “made fears about China more urgent, pointing to reports that Beijing had been silencing critics of its coronavirus response, as well as a new software system that tracks citizens and automatically assigns them a color-coded health score, which is then used to limit their movements.”

The Chinese government, he said, “has twisted AI in ways that are in direct conflict with the values of the U.S. and its allies,” and that the Global Partnership on AI is a “first of its kind … organization that sees the future of AI as something that can uplift Americans and people around the world.”

Kratsios also “compared the new AI partnership to past U.S.-led efforts to contain China’s influence over 5G wireless technology.” Last year, for example, the U.S. and 31 other countries “agreed to a set of cybersecurity standards that included warnings about suppliers from countries that do not adhere to international standards on security and data protection,” a pointed reference to Chinese companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE.

Kratsios noted that, “the idea of both the 5G and AI initiatives is to set limits on Chinese companies seeking to expand abroad.” Referring to China joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, he also warned that adopting Chinese 5G and AI standards would “run the risk of repeating the same mistakes our nations made nearly 20 years ago.”