Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The AI Column: Time For A Moral Reckoning Down In Silicon Valley
The recent revelation that China’s security services had successfully compromised the servers of thousands of leading tech' firms cloud computing platforms has sent shockwaves through the tech world. The hardware hack may have compromised some of the most sensitive computer systems used by the military and intelligence services. While the scope and sophistication of the operations were alarming, it was no surprise to some in national security circles.
This reckoning was a long time coming.
For years, China has leveraged its intelligence services to engage in large-scale theft of intellectual property from firms around the world. Counter-intelligence experts say that Silicon Valley is now a prime battleground for Chinese spies and spy catchers.
While the tech giants have grumbled, their complaints have been measured. China has the world’s largest population and will soon boast of the largest economy. No multinational corporation wants to antagonize what will soon be the largest market on Earth. While cheap labor initially drew American firms there, the prospect of keeping a foothold in this market kept them there.
The emerging field of artificial intelligence may change this landscape further. China has declared that they want to lead the world AI and have made huge investments to that end. Some of their leading scientists were taught in the U.S. and many of their start-ups are funded by American venture capital.
While the AI race has been compared to the space race of the 1960s, this competition will include private tech firms like Apple and Google, who spend more on research and development than government agencies like DARPA. Leveraging the investments made by China and getting access to their massive data troves could give these firms a critical edge. But this help comes at a price.
No firm has seen this new price more than Google. The ink was hardly dry on their new ethical statement before it revealed that they were working on a secret project to assist the Chinese government with a new search engine. China’s internet is heavily censored and its government operates the most intrusive electronic surveillance regime in history.
At the same time, Human Rights Watch released a report of mass incarceration of Chinese oppression political dissidents and religious minorities. HRW estimates the government has imprisoned as many as a million people in these camps. While Google isn’t building these camps, they may be helping the government decide whom to put in them.
Before the revelations about the Chinese hardware hacking, firms could tell themselves they were pursuing the best interests of their shareholders by looking the other way at China’s malfeasance. Some small start-ups likely decided they might as well work in China, since someone there was going to steal their work anyway.
But the day of reckoning has arrived. These firms have to decide if they want to protect their secrets, the US government’s secrets and their customers or sell them to the highest bidder. The consequence of these decisions will affect us all.
“Mal Ware” is a veteran of the AI racket so salty that his Twitter account has been verified since 2002. Opinions expressed are his own.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."
After a year and a half since the Army took delivery on the first of its souped-up new version of the M1 Abrams main battle tank, the Pentagon's Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio is ramping up to deliver the service's first full brigade of upgraded warhorses to bring the pain downrange.