Image courtesy of M Woods
This publication was originally published by the East-West Center in September 2019.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Cloud Computing (ABC) have generated unprecedented opportunities and challenges for economic competitiveness, national security, and law and order, as well as the future of work. ABC policies and practices have become contentious issues in U.S.-China bilateral relations. Pundits see a U.S.-China AI race and are already debating which country will win. Kaifu Lee, the CEO of Sinovation Ventures, believes that China will exceed the United States in AI in about five years.1 Others argue that China will never catch up.2 This essay focuses on two issues: the comparative ABC strengths of the United States and China in data and research and development (R&D); and the emerging ABC policies and practices in the two nations. Empirical analysis suggests that the United States and China lead in different areas. Compared to China’s top-down, whole-of-government, national- strategy approach, the U.S. ABC policy has been less articulated but is evolving.
DARPA Big Data
This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 19 January 2016.
As the U.S. Army prepares for the future, it has become increasingly aware that operations are more and more likely to take place in large cities. The number and size of cities continues to grow, and they are quickly becoming the dominant form of human habitation. Belligerent actors, aware of the West’s growing anxieties about collateral damage, have good reason to place forces in or around cities. Further, advanced sensing and weapons systems employed by modern militaries make hiding in remote areas of the world less and less attractive to non-state enemies of advanced powers.
America’s enemies see the advantages of the seemingly impenetrable clutter that dominates the modern city. The Army’s current approach to learning about this environment is to seek the diamonds scattered amidst this clutter. What we are missing, though, is that the clutter itself is the jewel. Enormous amounts of readily available data can reveal more about a city, its population, and the nefarious actors residing there than we could have imagined before. To truly understand this environment the Army must fundamentally change its approach to understanding the environment: It must adopt a holistic approach enabled by big data analytics.
The Army, however, seems hesitant to embrace 21st-century data analysis, instead relying largely on the same micro-level methods it has used for decades.
This must change if the Army wishes to maintain the ability to “see first” and “understand first” in the modern urban arena.