Break-up gives a huge advantage to Chinese big tech companies
Physics.org, May 17, 2019, //phys.org/news/2019-05-facebook-breakup-boost-china-rivals.html, Facebook breakup could boost China rivals: Sandberg
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said Friday a breakup of big US technology would not address “underlying issues” facing the sector and suggested that such a move could help rivals in China. Sandberg, interviewed on CNBC television, was asked about the latest calls to break up Facebook and other major Silicon Valley firms which dominate key sectors. “You could break us up, you could break other tech companies up, but you actually don’t address the underlying issues people are concerned about,” Sandberg said in the interview. Sandberg said the social network used by more than two billion people was working to address concerns about election security, online violence promotion and data protection, but that a breakup might only serve to help competitors from China. “While people are concerned with the size and power of tech companies, there’s also a concern in the United States with the size and power of Chinese companies, and the realization that those companies are not going to be broken up,” she said. The comments come a week after one of Facebook’s co-founders, Chris Hughes, said in an essay “it’s time to break up Facebook,” warning that it has gained too much power over what people see online. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has also called for a breakup that could require Facebook to spin off its Instagram and WhatsApp units. Sandberg maintained that Facebook’s teams are working hard on safety and security issues, echoing comments since the company came under fire over a series of missteps including leaking of data in 2016 to a consultancy working for Donald Trump. “We know at Facebook we have a real possibility to do better and earn back people’s trust,” she said. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said this week he was optimistic about progress toward a new regulatory framework that would apply to internet platforms. “Overall I think in order for people to trust the internet… there needs to be the right regulation put in place,” Zuckerberg said after meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss a report called “Creating a French Response to Make Social Media Responsible.”
Big tech critical to the development of artificial intelligence
Tom Simonite, February 12, 2019, //www.wired.com/story/pentagon-doubles-down-ai-wants-help-big-tech/
IN THE 1960S, the Department of Defense began shoveling money toward a small group of researchers with a then-fringe idea: making machines intelligent. Military money played a central role in establishing a new science—artificial intelligence. Sixty years later, the Pentagon believes AI has matured enough to become a central plank of America’s national security. On Tuesday, the department released an unclassified version of its AI strategy, which calls for rapid adoption of AI in all aspects of the US military. The plan depends on the Pentagon working closely with the tech industry to source the algorithms and cloud computing power needed to run AI projects. Federal contracting records indicate that Google, Oracle, IBM, and SAP have signaled interest in working on future Defense Department AI projects. “AI will n THE PENTAGON DOUBLES DOWN ON AI–AND WANTS HELP FROM BIG TECHot only increase the prosperity of the nation but enhance our national security,” said Dana Deasy, the department’s chief information officer, at a news briefing Tuesday. He said Russian and Chinese investments in military AI technology heighten the need for US forces to use more AI, too. “We must adopt AI to maintain our strategic position and prevail on future battlefields,” Deasy said. Previous Defense Department efforts to tap into the tech industry’s AI expertise haven’t all gone smoothly. Last year thousands of Google employees protested against the company’s work on Project Maven, which was intended to demonstrate how the US military could benefit from tapping commercially available AI technology.
David Streitfeld, Jan. 1, 2019, Big Tech May Look Troubled, but It’s Just Getting Started, New York Times, //www.nytimes.com/2019/01/01/technology/big-tech-troubled-just-getting-started.html
That is not the path the companies are taking. “The tech companies are not flinching,” said Bob Staedler, a Silicon Valley consultant. “Nothing has hit them on the nose hard enough to tell them to cut back. Instead, they are expanding. They’re going around the country acquiring the best human capital so they can create the next whiz-bang thing.” There is so much of life that remains undisrupted. The companies are competing to own the cloud — to become, in essence, the internet’s landlord. They have designs on cities: Google made a deal in 2017 to reimagine a chunk of waterfront Toronto from the ground up. Amazon is reworking the definition of community from the inside, as warehouses in rural areas provide the urban middle class with everything they want to stay home all weekend. ADVERTISEMENT These changes are only beginning to redefine society. When every home has an Amazon Echo, Google Home, an Apple HomePod or some other smart speaker, the companies are already signaling, all human and metaphysical needs will be fulfilled. For those who insist on venturing out, there will be driverless cars operated by Big Tech. And the companies are plunging further into artificial intelligence, with consequences unclear even to them. To accomplish all this, Big Tech needs hundreds of thousands of new employees, which means it needs somewhere to put them. This isn’t a matter of reconfiguring a floor or two at corporate headquarters. It means building new campuses around the country. Big Tech’s push into New York City and the Washington area has been well documented in recent months, with Google bulking up in the first and Amazon planning satellite offices in both. But even in its backyard of Silicon Valley, which is a mess of traffic congestion and housing prices that have attained levels even well-paid engineers can scarcely afford, there is a boom that, if anything, is accelerating. Anyone who wants to believe Big Tech is chastened should visit a section of San Jose just west of downtown, a jumble of carwashes and auto-body shops with a sprinkling of modern apartments. On a short street there is a house nearly a century old, a tiny thing with only one bath. Google bought it and another house last month in a package deal for $4 million, according to county documents reviewed by The Mercury News. A broken window reflecting construction in San Jose, where Google is putting together a campus that will total eight million square feet. Credit
Breaking-up big tech threatens the United States’ ability to compete in AI
Maz Zhan, Mary 23, 2019, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/facebook-google-mark-cuban-170108760.html, Facebook and Google are America’s ‘biggest competitive advantage,’ says Mark Cuban
In a new interview, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban rejected calls to break up tech companies like Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Facebook (FB), saying the internet giants constitute America’s “biggest competitive advantage” over China and Russia. “If you were to break up any of those companies,” Cuban says. “We’re going to lose our greatest competitive advantage that we have versus the Chinese and the Russians in a space that we need to dominate.” Cuban, a billionaire entrepreneur and host of the television show “Shark Tank,” said the Chinese and Russian governments understand the significance especially of artificial intelligence, pointing to national plans on the subject underway or under development in the two countries. “In the United States, we don’t have those plans yet,” he says. “But what we do have is five to 10 really, really big tech companies who dominate the research and development in the AI space.” Cybersecurity and tech innovation have become a central point of contention in the trade war between the U.S. and China. Last week, Trump declared a national emergency over threats to the U.S. posed by foreign tech companies, a move many perceived as a blow to Chinese telecommunications equipment company Huawei. Trump is reportedly considering imposing limits on the Chinese tech firm Hikvison, which produces surveillance technology used by the Chinese government to track members of the country’s Uighur minority, about 1 million of whom have been detained in internment camps. The spirited defense of big tech aired by Cuban, who is mulling a 2020 presidential run, distinguishes him from many Democratic presidential candidates who have called for the breakup of companies like Google and Facebook. In March, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for the breakup of major tech companies. She argued that rather than promote innovation, they stifle it. “Weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in competition and innovation in the tech sector,” she wrote on Medium. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have since backed Warren’s proposal. Former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) have both said the break-up of big tech is worth considering. Cuban made the remarks to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that airs on Yahoo Finance on Thursday in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. While Cuban is known for the Mavericks and “Shark Tank,” he made his first billions with an online streaming company called AudioNet that he co-founded in 1995. The company, which later became broadcast.com, sold to Yahoo in 1999 for stock valued at $5.7 billion. Soon after, in 2000, Cuban purchased the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks for $285 million; the team is now valued at $2.3 billion, according to Forbes. He also co-founded 2929 Entertainment, a film production and distribution company. Cuban has invested in hundreds of start-ups as a host of the TV show “Shark Tank,” which he joined in 2012. Mark Cuban appears on Influencers with Andy Serwer Mark Cuban appears on Influencers with Andy Serwer More ‘You don’t have to use Facebook. You don’t have to use Amazon.’ Expanding upon his support for big tech, Cuban argued that antitrust action is unnecessary because consumers can go elsewhere for similar products.
While the US leads in AI now, China is set to dominate the world in AI in the future. Greg Williams wrote on April 16th that,
Greg Williams, 4-16, 18, //www.wired.co.uk/article/why-china-will-win-the-global-battle-for-ai-dominance Why China will win the global race for complete AI dominance
China will be the world’s dominant player in artificial intelligence by 2030. This isn’t a prediction by a researcher or academic, it’s government policy from Beijing. A State Council document, issued in July last year, resolved to position China as the world’s pre-eminent practitioner of The Chinese not only have a strategy, they have a track record of delivering on large-scale, ambitious projects. I, the value of some Chinese technology companies like Alibaba and Tencent surpasses that of their American counterparts – Lee’s belief is that China enjoys significant structural advantages, primarily that of scale. “AI is run on data as fuel and China has so much more data than any other country,” Lee says. “While the mobile user numbers are maybe three X difference, the mobile payment numbers are more like 50 times more than the US.This huge amount of data can be cranked through the AI engine for better predictions, better efficiency, higher profits, less labour, less cost and so on. The data advantage is a huge one.” As debate continues in western democracies about the power and influence of technology companies and the way they share and use consumer data, there are few such qualms “It’s not an explicit process, but it’s a cultural element.” But, state policy and a vast marketplace will only take innovation so far. In order for machine learning and other forms of computer science to provide the tools needed for the dominant startups of the future, there is a need for talent in what has become a global marketplace. As there are no sales staff, customers order via smart phones or interact with in-store screens to place orders. In a.” This geopolitical impact will largely be compounded by what has effectively become a duopoly between the US and China, in which two distinct spheres of influence are being established. One scenario is that US technology companies will dominate the west and perhaps Japan, while Chinese startups – which more commonly attempt to partner with local players by supplying technology and capital – will establish themselves in the developing world. “Whether China penetrates into south-east Asia, India, the Middle East, maybe South America, is anywhere between possible and likely and a big plus for China, but even without that China is very strong,” Lee says. “A lot of people outside China question, ‘Oh you have to go outside China in order to be a big global player.’ While I think going global is a great thing and China will make strides, I don’t think it’s as important as people make out because China is already by far, the largest homogenous market in the world, it’s unified in language, culture, and government and it’s also fully connected with mobile payments. That’s probably about as important as the Western world combined.” And while the US still has the upper hand, Lee sees the balance of power shifting. “China clearly has a data advantage,” Lee says. “Its engineering is as good as elsewhere, maybe almost as good as elsewhere. Its entrepreneurs are probably stronger than any other country. The amount of capital is comparable with the US and the market is bigger. The duopoly is already a reality, except that you might say US has an upper hand today. But I think the ratio will inevitably change.”
SHerise Pham, 4-9, 18, //money.cnn.com/2018/04/09/technology/china-ai-sensetime-startup/index.html
Chinese artificial intelligence startups are attracting ever richer valuations as the country bets big on the emerging technology. SenseTime, which specializes in software that can identify people’s faces in surveillance videos, said Monday that it had secured $600 million in fresh funds and is already in talks with investors to raise more money. The latest cash injection values SenseTime at more than $4.5 billion, according to a person familiar with the company’s fundraising. That’s more than any other artificial intelligence startup on the planet, according to CB Insights. The second biggest AI startup is also Chinese: Shanghai-based Yitu Technology with a valuation of about $2.4 billion. Related: China’s Didi said to be worth $56B after raising more cash SenseTime tapped big names for cash in its latest funding round, including China’s leading e-commerce company, Alibaba (BABA). It had already announced an investment from US computer chip maker Qualcomm (QCOM) last year. The new funding will “help us widen the scope” for putting artificial intelligence to use in different industries, SenseTime CEO Li Xu. Investment in facial recognition tech, including government grants, surged to $1.7 billion in 2017, a more than sixfold increase from the previous year, according to a CB Insights report. All that cash has made China home to some of the most valuable AI startups on the planet, including SenseTime, Yitu and Megvii, according to CB Insights.
This will allow China to dominate the US militarily South China Morning Post, November 28, 2017, //www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2121923/china-racing-ai-military-superiority-over-us-says
A research arm of the US intelligence community just wrapped up a competition to see who could develop the best facial recognition technology. The challenge: identify as many passengers as possible walking on an aircraft boarding ramp. Of all the entries, it was a Chinese start-up company called Yitu Tech that walked away with the US$25,000 prize this month, the highest of three cash awards. The competition was one of many examples cited in a report by a US-based think tank about howChina’s military might leverage its country’s rapid advances in artificial intelligence to modernise its armed forces and, potentially, seek advantages against the United States. “China is no longer in a position of technological inferiority relative to the United States, but rather has become a true peer (competitor) that may have the capability to overtake the United States in AI,” said the report, written by Elsa Kania at the Centre for a New American Security, due to be released on Tuesday. Future US-China competition in AI, Kania wrote, “could alter future economic and military balances of power”. China’s AI industry has this one huge advantage over the US Alphabet Inc’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who heads a Pentagon advisory board, delivered a similar warning about China’s potential at a recent gathering in Washington. Schmidt noted that China’s national plan for the future of artificial intelligence, announced in July, calls for catching up with the United States in the coming years and eventually becoming the world’s primary AI innovation centre. “I’m assuming that our lead will continue over the next five years and that China will catch up extremely quickly. So, in five years we’ll kind of be at the same level, possibly,” Schmidt said told the conference, which was also hosted by the Centre for a New American Security. An unreleased Pentagon document, viewed by Reuters, warned earlier this year that Chinese firms were skirting US oversight and gaining access to sensitive US AI technology with potential military applications by buying stakes in American firms. NASA’s Global Hawk No. 871 drone, originally built for military reconnaissance missions China’s People’s Liberation Army is also investing in a range of AI-related projects and PLA research institutes are partnering with the Chinese defence industry, the report said, citing publicly available documents. “The In 2015, China ranked only behind the US and UK in the influence of their AI research publications, and in 2017 China produce more academic papers on AI then all of the 28 EU countries combined. At the same time, Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent are meeting their US counterparts in some displays of AI and machine-learning competence. More relaxed regulation around AI development and enormous national data sets – thanks to government data collection and an online population of 730m, almost twice the size of America’s – are also thought to give China a potential advantage in medium-term AI training. Meanwhile, AI does not appear to be a US government priority. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated that widespread AI in the workplace was not even on his radar screen, and the budget for the National Science Foundation – which covers AI development – has remained stagnant, after the House of Representatives rejected President Trump’s attempts to cut it by over 11%.
Using AI, China will even have a military advantage in nuclear warfare. NBC News reported on February 17th that
NBC News, February 17, 2018
- ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Chinese researchers have revealed plans to upgrade the country’s nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence, signaling efforts to tap into military uses for AI. China unveiled an ambitious plan in July to “lead the world” in this field, with a goal of creating a $150-billion AI industry by 2030. In the same month, swarm intelligence — the coordinated deployment of autonomous machines — was demonstrated when a state-owned company successfully launched 119 drones that performed formations in the sky. For the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said Kania of the Center for a New American Security, effective military applications of artificial intelligence will include cyber and electronic warfare as well as “swarms of drones that might be used to target high-value U.S. weapons platforms, such as aircraft carriers.” She added that China’s armed forces could also use AI to help them make better decisions on the battlefield. In late 2016, the Obama administration published three reports that shared an extraordinary conclusion: advances in machine learning, a technology that allows systems to learn and improve without explicit programming, are enabling a revolution in Artificial Intelligence (AI). As AI systems become increasingly capable of not only routine tasks like driving a car, but also complicated ones like designing car engines, AI technology will be the driving force behind transformations across both the economy and national security.
The US must protect its AI lead in order to prevent China’s military dominance. The article continues
South China Morning Post, November 28, 2017, //www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2121923/china-racing-ai-military-superiority-over-us-says
On the other hand, using AI in public and private sector developments to enhance national security is a key part of China’s strategy. Tsinghua University, one of China’s top universities, announced plans in June 2017 to establish a laboratory to explore the integration of civil and military systems and cutting-edge technology innovation. The 2018 US National Defense Strategy focused heavily on the threat to the US from ongoing military competition with China, and stated that investing broadly in the military application of AI was necessary for the US to maintain competitive military advantages. Economically, a focus on AI, machine learning, and automation in China will build on China’s national 10-year plan, “Made in China 2025”, which aims to turn China into one of the top technological industrial nations. A 2016 study by Citi and the Oxford Martin School points out that China is already the largest market for industrial automation, which over the medium-term is likely to offset the impact of increasing wages that have led to manufacturing companies leaving China. This will not only impact developing countries – which historically have capitalized on their relatively cheap labour costs to attract large numbers of relatively well-paid, low-skilled manufacturing jobs – but also keep Chinese production costs low in an era of economic competition with the US. China is set to make significant strides in the application of AI and the automation of key industries. If other countries do not develop similar strategies for the effective development and implementation of AI, they are likely to find themselves economically, and militarily, at a disadvantage.