The latest round of high-stakes talks to resolve trade and economic disputes between the U.S. and China is scheduled to resume in Beijing this week. The American side will be led by United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; China will be led by Vice Premier Liu He. The U.S. has threated to impose new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods if an agreement isn’t reached by March 1.
A computer scientist who is known as a pioneer in artificial intelligence is sounding the alarm about its potential for misuse by China -- joining privacy advocates and technologists who have expressed similar concerns. Yoshua Bengio, a Canadian computer scientist and co-founder of Montreal-based AI software company Element AI, said he was fearful about the technology being deployed to surveil and control people.
Two internets could emerge in the next five years -- one led by China and one led by the United States -- a top venture capitalist has predicted, adding to a growing chorus of voices suggesting such a development could take place. The concept has been dubbed the "splinternet," and it refers to a future in which the internet is fragmented, governed by separate regulations and run by different services.
China has reportedly extended an olive branch to the US ahead of the talks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told US TV network CNBC last month: “They put on the table an offer of over $1.2 trillion in additional commitments. But the details of that still need to be negotiated. … This isn’t just about buying things. This is about opening markets to US companies and protecting US technology. Those are very important structural issues to [US President Donald Trump].”
Earlier this month, Rubio and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who both sit on the Select Committee on Intelligence, unveiled a bill to “combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China and ensure U.S. technological supremacy by improving interagency coordination across the U.S. government” by creating “an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House
With just about one month to go before the U.S.-China trade truce comes to an end, some in the American business community have expressed concerns that many questions remain on whether the two countries can make enough progress before the early-March deadline lapses.
For the past century, the U.S. or its allies have held the upper hand in technology, whether it was the code cracking that helped win World War II, the atomic and space races, or the processing power that ushered in the digital age. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union competed on rockets and weapons systems, but didn't challenge American supremacy in consumer tech. The state of play: Now, that has changed. And America is paying too little attention.
Senior U.S. officials and experts say the United States needs to rally allies to pressure China to prevent it from stealing advanced technology through cyber espionage. At the same time, key American lawmakers are questioning the readiness and capacity of the U.S. to counter such threats.
Chinese tech company Huawei went so far as to steal a robot's arm in its bid to get its hands on T-Mobile's trade secrets, the U.S. government alleges. The case over Tappy, T-Mobile's phone-testing robot, portrays a company going to what the government calls illegal lengths to gain access to others' intellectual property. "This indictment shines a bright light on Huawei's flagrant abuse of the law," Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes in Seattle said in a statement.
Virtually every major U.S. tech company is doing business in China, collaborating with Chinese researchers or considering doing so. Now, several are also pushing back against proposals to limit the export of critical technologies to the People’s Republic. They ought to rethink, not just for the sake of U.S. national security but also for their bottom lines.