Geopolitics of AI References

Over the past few months, I’ve seen a number of articles having to do with the Geopolitics of AI. So, I’ve decided to create a reading list of the articles I’ve read on the topic.

Barnes, Julian E.

The New Arms Race in AI

By Julian E. Barnes and Josh Chin
March 2, 2018

Biddle, Sam

Why an “AI Race” Between the U.S. and China Is a Terrible, Terrible Idea
Sam Biddle

PERHAPS BECAUSE IT lies at the perfect nexus of genuinely-very-complicated and impossibly-confounded-by-marketing-buzzword-speak, the term “AI” has become a catchall for anything algorithmic and sufficiently technologically impressive. AI, which is supposed to stand for “artificial intelligence,” now spans applications from cameras to the military to medicine.

Brockman, John

Possible Minds: 20 Ways of Looking at AI
edited by John Brockman
Published 2019

Champion, Marc

Digital Cold War
By Marc Champion
Dec. 12, 2019

Chandler, Simon

How Artificial Intelligence Will Make Decisions In Tomorrow’s Wars
Simon Chandler

Artificial intelligence isn’t only a consumer and business-centric technology. Yes, companies use AI to automate various tasks, while consumers use AI to make their daily routines easier. But governments–and in particular militaries–also have a massive interest in the speed and scale offered by AI. Nation states are already using artificial intelligence to monitor their own citizens, and as the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed last week, they’ll also be using AI to make decisions related to national security and warfare.

Hao, Karen

China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns.

In recent years, the country has rushed to pursue “intelligent education.” Now its billion-dollar ed-tech companies are planning to export their vision overseas.

by Karen Hao
Aug 2, 2019

Finally, Chinese entrepreneurs have masses of data at their disposal to train and refine their algorithms. The population is vast, people’s views on data privacy are much more lax than in the West (especially if they can get coveted benefits like academic performance in return), and parents are big believers in the potential of technology, having seen how much it has transformed the country in just a few decades.

Harari, Yuval Noah

Why Technology Favors Tyranny
Yuval Noah Harari

October 2018

“Artificial Intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it.”

“The same technologies that might make billions of people economically irrelevant might also make them easier to monitor and control.”

“The conflict between democracy and dictatorship is actually a conflict between two different data-processing systems. AI may swing the advantage toward the latter.”

Kidelsky, Robert

The AI Road to Serfdom?

Kissinger, Henry A.

Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence.

Henry A. Kissinger
June 2018

Marcus, Gary

Rebooting AI: building artificial intelligence we can trust
by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis
published 2019

Mason, Paul

The end of capitalism has begun
Paul Mason


Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian.

Mitchell, Melanie

Artificial Intelligence: a guide for thinking humans
by Professor Melanie Mitchell
Published 2019

Naude, Wim

Singularity: how governments can halt the rise of unfriendly, unstoppable super-AI
Wim Naude


The invention of an artificial super-intelligence has been a central theme in science fiction since at least the 19th century. From E.M. Forster’s short story The Machine Stops (1909) to the recent HBO television series Westworld, writers have tended to portray this possibility as an unmitigated disaster. But this issue is no longer one of fiction. Prominent contemporary scientists and engineers are now also worried that super-AI could one day surpass human intelligence (an event known as the “singularity”) and become humanity’s “worst mistake”.

Current trends suggest we are set to enter an international arms race for such a technology. Whichever high-tech firm or government lab succeeds in inventing the first super-AI will obtain a potentially world-dominating technology. It is a winner-takes-all prize. So for those who want to stop such an event, the question is how to discourage this kind of arms race, or at least incentivise competing teams not to cut corners with AI safety.

Pandya, Jayshree

The End Of Work: The Consequences Of An Economic Singularity
Jayshree Pandya

The Geopolitics of Artificial Intelligence
by Jayshree Pandya

Prakash, Abishur

The Geopolitics of Artificial Intelligence
As the U.S. and China vie for global influence, AI will be central to the balance of power

By Abishur Prakash

July 11, 2019

Russell, Stuart

Human Compatible: artificial intelligence and the problem of control
by Professor Stuart Russell
Published 2019

Sargent, Thomas J.

The AI Frontier of Economic Theory
Thomas J. Sargent
Dec 2, 2019

Until recently, data sets were small and costly, and computers were slow and expensive. So it is natural that as gains in computing power have dramatically reduced these impediments, economists have rushed to use big data and artificial intelligence to help them spot patterns in all sorts of activities and outcomes.

Simonite, Tom

The ‘Mortal Danger’ of China’s Push into AI
Tom Simonite

Financier and philanthropist George Soros told the World Economic Forum in Davos Thursday that the technology may also undermine free societies and create a new era of authoritarianism.

“I want to call attention to the mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes,” Soros said. He made an example of China, repeatedly calling out the country’s president, Xi Jinping.

Thompson, Nicholas

The AI Cold War that threatens us all
Nicholas Thompson and Ian Bremmer
23 October 2018

I just co-wrote a Wired feature with Ian Bremmer making three arguments:
1) Technology now seems to aid authoritarianism more than democracy.
2) This is particularly worrisome in an age of AI.
3) And it may be leading us into a new Cold War.
— Nicholas Thompson

Toscano, Joe

China Will Outpace US Artificial Intelligence Capabilities, But Will It Win The Race?
Not If We Care About Freedom
Joe Toscano


We’ve all heard that China is preparing itself to outpace not only the United States but every global economy in Artificial Intelligence (AI). China is graduating more than 2-3x the amount of engineers each year than any other nation, the government is investing to accelerate AI initiatives, and, according to Kai-Fu Lee in a recent Frontline documentary, China is now producing more than 10x more data than the United States. And if data is the new oil, then China, according to Lee, has become the new Saudi Arabia.

Thompson, Nicholas

The AI Cold War That Threatens Us All
by Nicholas Thompson and Ian Bremmer

This article makes the following points:
1) Technology now seems to aid authoritarianism more than democracy.
2) This is particularly worrisome in an age of AI.
3) And it may be leading us into a new Cold War.

When Tech Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself
Nicholas Thompson

WHEN YOU ARE 2 years old, your mother knows more about you than you know yourself. As you get older, you begin to understand things about your mind that even she doesn’t know. But then, says Yuval Noah Harari, another competitor joins the race: “You have this corporation or government running after you, and they are way past your mother, and they are at your back.” Amazon will soon know when you need lightbulbs right before they burn out. YouTube knows how to keep you staring at the screen long past when it’s in your interest to stop. An advertiser in the future might know your sexual preferences before they are clear to you. (And they’ll certainly know them before you’ve told your mother.)

Tucker, Patrick

Spies Like AI: The Future of Artificial Intelligence for the US Intelligence Community
by Patrick Tucker

Smith, Wesley J.

Transhumanism – the lazy way to human improvement
by Wesley J. Smith

Transhumanism would shatter human exceptionalism. The moral philosophy of the West holds that each human being is possessed of natural rights that adhere solely and merely because we are human. But transhumanists yearn to remake humanity in their own image—including as cyborgs, group personalities residing in the Internet Cloud, or AI-controlled machines.

That requires denigrating natural man as exceptional to justify our substantial deconstruction and redesign. Thus, rather than view human beings as exclusive rights-bearers, the [Transhumanist Bill of Rights] would grant rights to all “sentient entities,” a category that includes both the biological and mechanical.

Sokol, Joshua

Why Artificial Intelligence Like AlphaZero Has Trouble With the Real World

Joshua Sokol
February 21, 2018

The latest artificial intelligence systems start from zero knowledge of a game and grow to world-beating in a matter of hours. But researchers are struggling to apply these systems beyond the arcade.

Walch, Kathleen

Why The Race For AI Dominance Is More Global Than You Think
Kathleen Walch
Feb 9, 2020

When people hear about the race for Artificial Intelligence (AI) dominance, they often think that the main competition is between the US and China. After all, the US and China have most of the largest and most well funded AI companies on the planet, and the pace of funding, company growth, and adoption doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that many other countries have a stake in the AI race, and indeed, some countries have AI efforts, funding, technologies, and intellectual property that make them serious contenders in the jostling for AI dominance. In fact according to a recent report from analyst firm Cognilytica, France, Israel, United Kingdom, and the United States all are equally strong when it comes to AI, with China, Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea equally close in their AI strategic strength.

Wu, Tim

America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence
We need to stop pretending that Silicon Valley can compete with China on its own.

By Tim Wu

Mr. Wu is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.”
Oct. 7, 2019

The brilliant 2014 science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, depicts the fate of civilizations as almost entirely dependent on winning grand races to scientific milestones. Someone in China’s leadership must have read that book, for Beijing has made winning the race to artificial intelligence a national obsession, devoting billions of dollars to the cause and setting 2030 as the target year for world dominance. Not to be outdone, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently declared that whoever masters A.I. “will become the ruler of the world.”

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