Sat, Mar 23, 2019 - Page 7 News List

US general to discuss China issues with Google

MAINTAINING ADVANTAGE:Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said that there was concern over second and third-order effects of business in China

AP, WASHINGTON

The top US military officer is to meet with Google representatives next week amid growing concerns that US companies doing business in China are helping its military gain ground on the US.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday said that efforts like Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) venture in China allow the Chinese military to access and take advantage of US-developed technology.

“This is not about me and Google,” Dunford told an audience at the Atlantic Council.

“This is about us looking at the second and third order of effects of our business ventures in China, Chinese form of government and the impact it’s going to have on the United States’ ability to maintain a competitive military advantage,” he said.

Google says that its AI activities in China are focused on “education, research on natural language understanding and market algorithms, and development of globally available tools.”

In a statement last week Google said it is not working with the Chinese military.

The company said that it continues to work with the US government, including the US Department of Defense, in many areas, including cybersecurity, recruiting and healthcare.

Dunford’s comments reflect widespread US government worries that any information or data a US company has or uses as it does business in China is automatically available to the Chinese government and its military.

US companies in China are required to have a cell of the Chinese Communist Party present, Dunford said, adding: “That will lead to that intellectual property from that company finding its way to the Chinese military.”

‘GREAT CONCERN’

Last week he and Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan expressed similar concerns at a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit,” Dunford said at the hearing.

“And frankly, indirect may be not a full characterization of the way it really is. It’s more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military,” he said.

Shanahan also said that Google is stepping away from some Pentagon contracts.

Internal protests by workers at Google led the tech company to say last year that it is dropping out of Project Maven, which uses algorithms to interpret drone video images from conflict zones.

Employees had complained that Google was helping with technology that could improve lethal targeting.

Shanahan told senators that US$5 trillion of China’s economy is state-owned enterprises, “so the technology that is developed in the civilian world transfers to the military world.”

‘DIRECT PIPELINE’

“It’s a direct pipeline. Not only is there a transfer, there’s also systemic theft of US technology that also facilitates even faster development of emerging technology,” he said.

As a result, Shanahan said that the US military needs to continue to invest in AI and funding would double in the proposed budget for next year.

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